Citigroup (C) , the U.S. bank with operations in more than 160 countries, may retool its sprawling trade-finance business if President-elect Donald Trump follows through on pledges to stiffen tariffs on imports and increase protectionism to favor domestic companies and jobs.
CFO John Gerspach told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that a distributed “network model” might work better for trade finance in the Trump era than a “hub-and-spoke model,” where most loans and money transfers flow through banking centers like New York. The firm boasts more than 200 million clients around the world, with major operations in some of the countries where Trump has cited the need for renegotiation of trade terms, including China and Mexico.
There are “many non-U.S. multinationals who depend on us for trade flow that doesn’t even touch the U.S.,” Gerspach said. “We’ve talked in the past about moving away from a hub-and-spoke model to a network model when it comes to trade.”
Large U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GS) , have seen their stocks surge 25% on average in the past three months as Trump’s surprise election fueled investor optimism about a rollback of regulations imposed since the financial crisis eight years ago. The firms also have reaped a windfall from stock- and bond-trading commissions as surging U.S. Treasury yields and share prices following the Nov. 8 election sent investors scurrying to readjust their portfolios.
Some analysts also say that Trump’s erratic, unpredictable and unfiltered…