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Citi bets on Europe despite political uncertainty, regional CEO says

FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto

By Andres Gonzalez

LONDON (Reuters) - Citigroup is looking to boost its business in Europe despite political instability on the continent spooking investors, the bank's new head of the region Ignacio Gutierrez-Orrantia said in an interview with Reuters.

The U.S. bank, which last year undertook its most significant restructuring in decades, is currently placed fourth in EMEA league tables for M&A and sixth for equity capital markets (ECM), according to Refinitiv.

"Our ambition is to be number one, whether it takes us three, four or five years. We are committed to reaching the top," Gutierrez-Orrantia, known as Nacho, said.

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However, he noted that "volatility and lack of visibility due to the upcoming elections in the UK and France are causing doubts among investors".

Italian luxury sports brand Golden Goose on Tuesday, postponed its plans for a listing in Milan, blaming the significant deterioration in market conditions following European parliament elections this month and the calling of a general election in France.

"From a business perspective, this is also an opportunity for us to sit down with our clients and advise them on how to navigate this instability more effectively," Gutierrez-Orrantia said.

"With all this political uncertainty happening in Europe, opportunities may arise," he added.

Gutierrez-Orrantia, Europe Cluster and Banking Head for Europe, also assumed the role of CEO of Citibank Europe on Thursday.

He will oversee the bank's businesses in Europe - Banking, Markets, Services and Wealth - and also the relationship with European regulators.

Citi, dealing with an unsettled workforce after thousands of layoffs worldwide, is stepping up efforts to fix regulatory problems in the United States as it seeks to boost future profits.

The lender has faced regulatory challenges tied to its so-called living will, which details how it would be unwound in the event of bankruptcy. It is also addressing fines handed down by regulators in 2020.

Gutierrez-Orrantia, a 20-year veteran of Citi, said the bank will particularly focus on tech, healthcare and infrastructure deals in Europe.

(Reporting by Andres Gonzalez, editing by Anousha Sakoui and Kirsten Donovan)