(Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc. has begun the sales process for its consumer, small-business and middle-market banking divisions in Mexico, though an initial public offering remains on the table. 

The Citibanamex unit “is attracting a lot of attention,” and the company has begun fielding interest from buyers in preliminary sales talks, Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser said Thursday on a conference call with analysts. No deal is imminent, however, as Citigroup still needs to carve out the institutional businesses it hopes to keep, according to the CEO.

“This is not an uncomplicated transaction,” she said. “This is going to take time. We want to do it properly. And by time I mean a few quarters. So I think we’re not anticipating at this very early stage whether that would be this year or early next year.”

Citigroup said in January it would try to unload its retail-banking operations in Mexico, home to the lender’s largest branch network in the world. The move is part of Fraser’s push to simplify operations and focus the New York-based company on wealth management and U.S. credit-card offerings. 

“There is significant interest in this iconic franchise,” Fraser said. “Because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here, we have a range of options ahead, from IPO to sale.”

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