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Barclays to begin spending spree by buying Portugese credit card business

BARCLAYS is close to agreeing a deal to buy Citigroup&rsquo;s credit card business in Portugal.<br /><br />The deal is expected to be announced early this week, and is not thought to exceed &pound;60m.<br /><br />Britain&rsquo;s second largest bank is looking to complete a string of purchases throughout Europe at the same time as Citigroup is seeking to sell off branches which it considers non-core.<br /><br />Vikram Pandit, Citigroup&rsquo;s chief executive, has marked all of the bank&rsquo;s retail operations in western Europe, as well as several in eastern Europe, as non-core and seleable. <br /><br />The sales follow the redundancy of 100,000 employees and a $25bn (&pound;15.6bn) federal bailout in November. <br /><br />Citigroup has relied on selling off assets to maintain its profitability. <br /><br />As one of the few British banks not to be bailed out by the government, Barclays has already been actively acquiring assets, snapping up the North American business of bankrupt US investment bank Lehman Brothers.<br /><br />Frits Seegers, head of Barclays&rsquo; retail and commercial banking arm, worked for Citigroup for 17 years, and is familiar with the businesses being made available to buy.<br /><br />While at Citigroup, Seegers was in charge of all of the newly available retail businesses across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.