15/12/2009 00:00 AST

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said Monday he has no plans to sell shares in US banking giant Citigroup Inc. Alwaleed added the bank’s decision to exit TARP was “prudent”.

Alwaleed invested in Citigroup through Kingdom Holding in 1991 with an ownership of 3.6 percent and in January 2008 participated in a $12.5 billion private offering of convertible preferred securities of Citigroup, Kingdom Holding said in the statement.

He said in a statement that he supports Chief Executive Vikram Pandit and that Citi’s plans to repay the US government gives the lender “more certainty as to how they will conduct their business profitably.”

Gulf investors have recently sold Citi stakes. Kuwait Investment Authority this month said it off-loaded its holdings in the company.

Citigroup announced plans Monday to repay $20 billion in government aid in a big step toward emerging from a massive bailout.

Citi, which was kept afloat by a series of state rescues during the financial crisis, said it would sell $20.5 billion in new securities under the plan.

The proceeds will be used to buy back the preferred shares held by the US Treasury under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The plan also calls for the Treasury to sell $5 billion of the common stock held in Citi and “to sell the remainder of its shares in an orderly fashion over the next six to 12 months,” a Citigroup statement said. The rescue of Citigroup was the most extensive for the US banks hit by the financial crisis last year.

The government injected a total of $45 billion in the firm, once the world’s biggest banking group. It converted a portion of that to common stock earlier this year in exchange for a stake of around 34 percent in Citi.

The agreement also calls for an end to additional state guarantees to Citi in a so-called loss-sharing agreement.

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