HSBC's Mexico unit analyzing possible Citibanamex purchase

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MEXICO CITY, Jan 25 (Reuters) - HSBC's Mexico unit is analyzing the purchase of Citigroup's retail operations in the country, known as Citibanamex, HSBC Mexico's chief executive officer and president said on Tuesday.

"We're still looking at the opportunity, if there's a real strategy for the bank," HSBC Mexico's Jorge Arce said in a conference call first reported by Mexican newspaper El Financiero.

An HSBC spokesperson confirmed his comments to Reuters.

"Everyone is looking into it," Arce said, "Everyone will put a different price on it depending on who the potential buyer is, it's a valuable franchise."

Analysts told Reuters that Citibanamex could fetch anywhere from $4 billion to $8 billion.

Arce said HSBC Mexico was in the early stages of analyzing a purchase.

"That's not to say we will or won't make a bid," he said. "That's still a ways off, but there's no banker in Mexico who isn't thinking about how much it's worth, how it can be merged."

U.S.-based Citigroup announced earlier this month that it would be putting its Mexico retail operations up for sale, the latest move away from some international markets.

Citibanamex will go on the market sometime this spring, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser said in a Jan. 14 call with investors.

Analysts expect both Mexican and international banks to make a bid for the nation's no. 2 bank, though Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said he would prefer Citibanamex to go to domestic investors. (Reporting by Kylie Madry Editing by Paul Simao)

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