Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is a British-owned formerly American bank headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, which operates in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Citizens is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, with headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland. Following the financial rescue of RBS, the companys controlling shareholder is currently the British government. As of 2011, Citizens was the 15th-largest bank in the United States.
Citizens was first established in 1828 as the High Street Bank in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1871, the Rhode Island legislature gave a second charter to establish the Citizens Savings Bank which eventually acquired its parent group to form Citizens Trust Company. The bank then expanded through Rhode Island, opening a total of 29 branches in that state. Citizens Financial Group was established as a holding company when the bank acquired The Greenville Trust Company in 1954.
In 1985, Citizens changed status from a mutual savings bank to a federal stock savings bank. Expansion into other states began with Massachusetts in 1986.
In 1988, Citizens accepted a takeover bid from the Scotland-based bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which used Citizens Bank as a stepping stone into the American market. In the following sixteen years under RBS ownership, Citizens acquired several smaller banks in the New England area to become the second largest bank in the region. In 1996, the acquisition of First NH Bank saw the Bank of Ireland gain a 23.5% stake in Citizens, which was repurchased two years later by RBS.
Expansion outside New England began in 2001, when RBS purchased the retail banking division of Mellon Financial Corporation in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. In one stroke, this made Citizens Bank the second-largest bank in Pennsylvania, and a major player in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Three years later, RBS bought Cleveland-based Charter One Bank for $10.5 billion (see below), which made Citizens Financial the ninth-largest bank in the United States with over $128 billion in assets and 1,400 branches across 13 states, making Citizens Financial Group contribute 25% to the profits of RBS.
In July 2003, the bank purchased the naming rights to the new home field of the Philadelphia Phillies, calling it Citizens Bank Park.
On January 17, 2003, Citizens Financial Group, Inc. purchased Commonwealth Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for Commonwealth Bank, based in Norristown, Pennsylvania. In 2004 RBS purchased the credit card division of Connecticut-based Peoples Bank. This purchase allows Citizens to issue and market its own credit cards. In late 2004, Citizens Financial acquired Cleveland-based Charter One Bank for $10.5 billion, with branches in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, upstate New York, and Vermont.
On April 18, 2008, RBS revealed that it would post almost $8 billion in losses related to subprime mortgage securities. Less than a month earlier its CEO, Fred Goodwin, denied rumors that losses were possible.
In May 2008, Citizens Financial Group, an RBS subsidiary, failed to publicly announce that it was under investigation by the SEC for its involvement in the sub-prime mortgage crisis that has devastated the U.S. housing market and bond investors around the world. Only banks involved in the purchase and sale of subprime securities were under investigation.
On 27 Jan 2010, Citizens Bank is sued for $8 billion, claiming that the bank used sham accusations of default to recall loans in an effort to prop up its failing parent companies, Citizens Financial Group and "its ultimate parent, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group."
Following the effective nationalization of RBS in 2008, speculation has arose as to whether RBS will retain Citizens Bank. Things started coming to a head in 2012, when public pressure in the United Kingdom wants RBS to focus on its home market and sell off foreign assets, including Citizens Bank, in order for UK taxpayers to earn their money back. Among those that have been rumored to be interested in Citizens Bank are other foreign banks such as Brazil-based Itaú Unibanco and Canada-based Toronto-Dominion Bank, the latter of which already has an existing U.S. branch network that overlaps with the existing Citizen footprint east of the Appalachian Mountains. The Bank of Montreal, which also has an existing U.S. presence, has also been mentioned as a possible buyer. Among domestic-based banks that have been mentioned as potential Citizens buyers include JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, PNC Financial Services, and Fifth Third Bank.
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