New York-based Citigroup is mulling the option of establishing a wholly-owned securities arm in China, Bloomberg reported.

The bank is expected to apply for a futures licence in the first half of next year.

Plans are on to initially offer brokerage and futures trading, says the report. The US bank also intends to strengthen its custodian services in China.

In an emailed statement, the bank noted: “Citi continues to evaluate opportunities to further support its clients in China.”

However, the report stressed that no final decision has been taken on the matter.

Customers based in China are said to contribute more than $1bn in annual revenue to Citi.

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The existing figure is ten times higher than that reported 10 years earlier, says Bloomberg.

Citi previously owned a 33% interest in a securities joint venture (JV) with Orient Securities. It withdrew from the JV a year earlier in order to launch a business with majority control.

The latest plans come amidst China’s move to liberalise its financial services sector by opening it to more foreign competition.

A year ago, the country allowed foreign players to hold a majority stake in Chinese JVs. UBS,  JPMorgan already gained a controlling stake in their China JVs while Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, among others, are eyeing the same.

Last week, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) unveiled that the foreign ownership cap would be scrapped starting from 1 January 2020.