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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Citigroup Planning to Double Bank Customers to 300,000

APPresident Putin receiving Citigroup chairman Sanford Weill in the Kremlin on Friday.
President Vladimir Putin gave his blessing to plans by Citigroup to more than double its retail banking operations in Russia, but told the banking giant's chairman Friday that more could be done to encourage U.S. investment.

Citigroup's Sanford Weill said he hoped the company's Citibank division would have 300,000 private clients in Russia by the end of 2005. He said Citigroup was mulling expanding its work "in the area of technologies," calling Russia a "very important location."

The Russian market is still wide open for retail banks, with per capita borrowing less than 5 percent of gross domestic product, according to Citibank.

"The pace of Russian economic growth suggests that your expansion plans may become a reality," Putin told Weill at the televised meeting.

Citibank said it has 140,000 private clients in Russia and saw its consumer loan portfolio increase sixfold in 2004, to 2.5 billion rubles. According to data provided by the Renaissance Capital Investment bank, Citibank is the fifth- largest bank in Russia, based on pretax profits.

Putin also told Weill that the United States is among Russia's "priority business partners," but said there is still a lot of work to be done, particularly in the investment sector.

Weill suggested that the Russian president might become a client of Citibank.

"At the moment my salary is transferred to Sberbank," Putin told Weill. "But I'll think it over."