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Citibank pulls out of Philadelphia banking: update

Center City shutdown follows suburban flight last year

UPDATE: As it plans to shut down the last of its failed Philadelphia-area branch network, Citibank found a buyer for 21 Austin- and San Antonio-area branches in Texas, with over $1 billion in deposits. They'll be picked up by North Carolina-based BB&T for a premium of $36 million, reports the San Antonio Express-News here.

YESTERDAY: Citibank, the global Manhattan-based loan and investment company, is shutting its remaining Philadelphia branches -- five in Center City, one each in Germantown, Northeast Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd -- and offices in Cherry Hill and Lawrenceville (near Princeton) NJ, and Talleyville, DE (between Wilmington and Chadds Ford), according to letters sent to local customers this week.

They're all closing, confirms Citi spokesman Andrew Brent, of the Philadelphia branches. The bank's nearest surviving location will be in Woodbridge, N.J., in metro New York, according to the letters. Citi already shut nine suburban Philadelphia offices, some in choice locations and built at a cost of several million dollars, as I reported here a year ago.

The shutdown reverses rapid expansion before the 2008 financial crisis, when Citi was among the New York banks seeking to boost its municipal, business and consumer lending and money management in the region after Philadelphia's major banks sold to out-of-town companies in the 1980s and 1990s. Citi has lately been shutting branches as more Americans bank online, and cutting back physical offices in markets where it's not a dominant lender or depository.

ALSO from spokesman Brent: "Philadelphia remains an important market for Citi. We maintain several key businesses including municipal finance, equities, Commercial Banking and Private Banking" offices in the city, and count "some of Philadelphia's largest employers, middle market businesses, local affordable housing developments, and the Philadelphia School District" as contractors, and want to expand these businesses.

Brent said Citi also wants to keep lending money for "neighborhood economic development projects, programs designed to help low-income public students enroll in college, and mortgage foreclosure prevention assistance."