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Citi in talks with Russia's Expobank over sale of local operations - source

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By Pamela Barbaglia

(Reuters) -Citigroup Inc is in talks with Russian private lender Expobank over a possible sale of some of its operations in the country, the latest attempt by a Western bank to quit sanctions-hit Russia, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Discussions between Expobank and Citi are at an advanced stage and are focused on finding a price that would work for both parties, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Expobank and Citi declined to comment.

Igor Kim, Expobank's key shareholder, is seeking to expand the lender's investment banking business and has been luring clients from other Russian banks hit by sanctions, the source said.

If the deal goes ahead, Citi would become the second Western lender to hand over the keys of its Russian business after French bank Societe Generale clinched a deal in April to sell Rosbank to Interros Capital, a firm linked to Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin.

Citi's Russian consumer banking franchise had first-quarter revenue of $32 million, down 6% from a year earlier due to the impact of sanctions against Russia.

The bank said in a quarterly securities filing in May that discussions to sell its Russian consumer business were underway in line with recent comments by Chief Executive Jane Fraser.

The filing said Citi was also looking to sell its Russian commercial banking business, which caters to smaller firms, and was no longer taking any new clients after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The Financial Times, which was first to report discussions with Expobank, said Rosbank and Russian insurance company Reso-Garantia had also expressed interest in Citi's Russian assets.

(Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia; Additional reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Jan Harvey)

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