Citigroup said to lose more than $150 million on FX turmoil

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NEW YORK/LONDON (Jan 17): Citigroup Inc., the world’s biggest currencies dealer, lost more than $150 million after the Swiss central bank’s surprise decision to let the franc trade freely against the euro, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The losses occurred on the New York-based bank’s trading desks and aren’t tied to its relationships with FXCM Inc. and other retail trading platforms, said the person, who asked for anonymity because the information hasn’t been disclosed publicly. Citigroup’s head of European investor sales, foreign exchange and local markets, Alex Jackson, left the firm this week, another person said earlier today.

Deutsche Bank AG and Barclays Plc also incurred losses after the Swiss National Bank scrapped its three-year-old policy of capping its currency against the euro. The franc soared as much as 41 percent versus the euro, while climbing more than 15 percent against all of the more than 150 currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Deutsche Bank lost $150 million and Barclays less than $100 million, people familiar with the matter said.

For Citigroup, a loss of $150 million equates to about 7.5 percent of the $1.99 billion the bank generated from fixed- income markets in the fourth quarter. Financial results at firms across Wall Street this week disappointed investors as earnings from that business fell short of analysts’ estimates.

Citigroup rose 0.8 percent today to close at $47.61 in New York. The shares have tumbled 12 percent this month, compared with the 5 percent drop for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index.

Jefferies Group

FXCM, the largest U.S. retail foreign-exchange broker, got a $300 million cash infusion from Leucadia National Corp. after warning Thursday that client losses threatened its compliance with capital rules. FXCM, which handled $1.4 trillion of trades for individuals last quarter, said it was owed $225 million by customers.

The lifeline lets FXCM “continue normal operations,” the companies said. Leucadia owns investment bank Jefferies Group.

Citigroup is among FXCM’s prime brokers and hasn’t yet determined whether it suffered additional losses related to FXCM, the person said. Two firms, Global Brokers NZ Ltd. and Alpari (UK) Ltd., said they were forced to shut down amid the market turmoil.

Spokesmen for Citigroup, Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank and London-based Barclays declined to comment.