updated 12/13/2009 8:20:06 PM ET 2009-12-14T01:20:06

Citigroup is nearing a deal with the U.S. government to begin repaying some of the billions in bailout aid it has received, according to a published report.

Citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site Sunday that Citigroup executives are hoping to release details as early as Monday morning. Under the expected deal, Citigroup would sell more than $10 billion in common stock to help it repay some of the $20 billion that the government injected into the bank last year, the paper said.

The money also would allow the New York-based bank to exit a program giving it government protection from losses on more than $300 billion worth of assets. In return, Citigroup executives are hoping that the Treasury Department will sell at least a portion of the government's 34 percent stake in the company, which it received for its total $45 billion investment, according to the paper.

Citigroup spokesman Jon Diat declined to comment. Calls to the Treasury Department weren't immediately returned Sunday evening.

Pressure on Citigroup to repay the loans is building after Bank of America Corp. earlier this month repaid the $45 billion it had received, adding to the $71 billion already repaid by about 50 other financial companies.

Banking analysts have said Citigroup and Wells Fargo & Co. will face a competitive disadvantage as the last two large U.S. banks still holding funds from the Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program. Both are subject to restrictions on employee compensation until they repay the government. That's raised worries that top performers will defect to rival firms.

But the government may be reluctant to let them repay until they're confident that no further assistance will be needed. Many banks still face big losses on loans as people fall behind on bills — losses that could further erode their capital and put them in danger.

Even if a deal is completed, Citigroup is unlikely to be completely free of government control anytime soon since the Treasury Department probably will not sell all of its holdings in Citigroup at once.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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