CITIGROUP TO AID COMMUNITIES \ LOWER-INCOME AREAS TO GET LOANS, INVESTMENTS

CITIGROUP TO AID COMMUNITIES \ LOWER-INCOME AREAS TO GET LOANS, INVESTMENTS

With the ink barely dry on their planned nuptials, Citibank and Travelers Group have together announced a 10-year, $115 billion commitment to lending and investing in low- and moderate-income communities and to small businesses.

SPECIAL PRICING

In the first effort by a bank to enhance its community program by integrating the products, services and community programs of a nondepository institution, the new Citigroup also announced that it voluntarily will expand the availability of commercial and homeowners insurance coverage and provide special pricing to low- and moderate-income customers.

Citibank, which refers to Citibank NA and seven other banking subsidiaries of Citicorp, is subject to the community lending requirements of the Community Reinvestment Act.

Travelers Group, which generally is not subject to CRA requirements, has pledged that the non-bank businesses it is contributing to Citigroup will actively support a broad range of community development activities as a reflection of its commitment to good corporate citizenship.

In addition to the insurance program, the companies announced two initiatives that will put the combined resources of the banking and insurance company to work for individuals and communities.

* A major financial and technology literacy program will be conducted to lead the companies' efforts in helping people develop skills they need to effectively manage their financial lives.

* The Center for Community Development Enterprise will be established to direct the combined companies' initiatives in community development.

Six billion dollars of the $115 billion commitment is targeted for the center's activities.

John S. Reed, Citicorp chairman and chief executive, and Sanford I. Weill, Travelers Group chairman and chief executive, made the announcements as they jointly filed the application to the Federal Reserve.

CRA PERFORMANCE IMPROVES

The application details Citibank's community lending and investment record.

The bank has a long history of community support, and its 1997 CRA performance was significantly ahead of the previous year.

''We will maintain our longstanding commitment to the communities in which we do business,'' Mr. Reed said.

''Our commitment to local community economic development draws upon the strengths and skills we use in our everyday business, and is focused on a wide array of lending and services aimed at supporting low- and moderate-income families and neighborhoods. We believe this commitment is key to our business success.''

Mr. Weill said, ''Our creative efforts are taking the strengths of a national insurance company and focusing them on traditionally underserved communities. ''Our initiatives, which will be closely coordinated with Citibank's own activities, are a clear example of one plus one equaling three. As a result of the merger of Travelers Group and Citicorp, we are extending the availability of essential financial and insurance resources to more low- and moderate-income communities.''

Travelers will expand significantly its Urban Availability of Insurance program, which was founded in 1994 to improve the availability of property insurance in urban areas and to increase the number of minority insurance agents writing business for the company.

INSURER FOR NONPROFIT GROUPS

Travelers will also enrich Charity 1st, a $16 million nationwide program that the insurance company initiated to serve the insurance needs of 6,000 nonprofits.

It offers risk management services and comprehensive insurance products designed especially for these organizations.

Through Charity 1st, Travelers will provide risk management education and counseling to Citibank's nonprofit community partners who express interest.

Mr. Reed and Mr. Weill said: ''In combining Citicorp and Travelers Group to form Citigroup, we've done more than bring together products and services or sales and delivery channels.

''We've created an unsurpassed resource for high-quality products, services and consumer education. We intend to use our resources to improve the financial lives of our customers as well as the communities we serve.''