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Citigroup could lose billions in Russia, bank helping staff leave Ukraine -executives

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FILE PHOTO: A Citibank branch, which was seized by an unknown man who threatened to blow himself up, is seen in central Moscow
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By Matt Scuffham, David Henry and Noor Zainab Hussain

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Citigroup Inc could face billions of dollars of losses at its Russian business and is helping some of its 200 staff in Ukraine leave the country following Russia's invasion, executives said on Wednesday.

The bank's total exposure to Russia amounted to nearly $10 billion at the end of last year, it said on Monday, far higher than previously communicated.

Asked at the bank's investor day about potential losses in Russia, Chief Financial Officer Mark Mason said it had run health checks to determine how much of that exposure could be lost under different potential outcomes.

"We've been working very closely with our risk management to run various scenarios as to what that exposure could mean under different stress scenarios," he said. "Looking at a severe stress scenario that number, on the high end, could be a little less than half of that exposure but it could also be a lot less than that depending on how the situation evolves."

The bank is looking to reduce its exposure to Russian assets using hedging and other strategies, Mason said.

"We've been managing that exposure very proactively to bring that number down," Mason said.

The bank is attempting to sell its Russian consumer business. Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser said it was "too early to tell" how that sale process will be affected. The only publicly named buyer had been Russian state bank VTB Bank, which is the subject of U.S. sanctions.

The bank also said it had been helping those among its 200 staff in Ukraine who want to leave that country to do so, sending pay in advance and providing other assistance.

"We've been helping those that want to get across the border into Poland, giving them safe accommodation there, we've given them advances on their payroll, emergency supplies, medical availability and as much support as we possibly can," she said.

The bank is also supporting staff that want to stick it out in Ukraine, Fraser said. She commended them for continuing to serve the bank's clients, including multi-national companies.

"Every single day through this war they have been operating our bank and making sure that we are operating on the ground so that we are able to serve our clients there, the multi-nationals," she said. "They are quite exceptional in their drive, what they are wanting to do for the country, for the bank and for our clients."

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham, David Henry in New York and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bangalore; Editing by Leslie Adler, Nick Zieminski and Bernard Orr)

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