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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Citigroup in $15bn share buyback
Citigroup Center, in New York
Citigroup remains upbeat about its international operations
US bank giant Citigroup has announced a $15bn (7.9bn) share buyback programme, on top of record quarterly earnings.

The world's largest financial institution said it planned to purchase about 6% of its own stock over the next 18 months.

It said first quarter net income rose 3% to $5.44bn, from $5.27bn a year ago.

Citigroup will buy its shares on the open market and cancel them, so each remaining share is worth proportionately more of the company.

Efficiency costs

Growth in retail banking, credit cards and international operations boosted the group's fortunes during the January-to-March period, Citigroup said.

Shares in the company rose on news of the share buyback and were up 1.78% at $46.21 in early trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

"I feel very, very good about the international business as it relates to (the) consumer," Citigroup chief executive Charles Prince said.

Citigroup said its first-quarter results included a $272m charge for the cost of streamlining operations, as well as a $109m loss in loan sales.

Last month, German prosecutors decided not to prosecute traders at Citigroup for alleged government bond market manipulation.

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