Citibank Universal Card Services will close its Salt Lake City operation in October, leaving more than 800 employees with the options of moving with the company or finding new jobs.

Spokesman Bruce Reid said employees of the company's AT&T Universal Card collections, customer service and business card operations at the Salt Lake center, 5201 S. Amelia Earhart Drive, were told of the closure plans during Tuesday morning meetings with their supervisors.Citibank also will close its Universal Card operation in Columbus, Ga., where it employs about 200 people, and its Diners Club site in Denver, Colo.

Reid said all of the Salt Lake jobs will move to existing Citibank locations in Jacksonville, Fla.; Florence, Ky.; and Hagerstown, Md.

"It's a consolidation of some of the Citibank locations," Reid said. "(Salt Lake employees) will be offered jobs first. They can relocate. And there will be financial assistance related to the relocation."

Citibank announced last December that it would buy the Universal Card operation from AT&T for $3.5 billion in cash. The Salt Lake City card office opened in 1992.

Since October is the target date for closure, Reid said, employees will receive official notice in August. If people stay with the company up until the Salt Lake closure and decide not to relocate, they will receive an incentive bonus and a severance package.

"We're trying to keep these people operating the business . . .," Reid said. "These are very good people. The action that we're announcing today, obviously, in no way reflects on the ability of the people in Salt Lake City. We would like them to stay (with the company). That opportunity will be their's."

Citibank does not have other operations in Utah, he said, and the company realizes that many of its Salt Lake employees probably will choose not to move.

"Telling people that their jobs are going away is never good news. But the fact that they will be offered positions elsewhere takes some of the sting out," Reid said.

Although he did not have specific figures on how much money Citibank will save by closing its Utah, Colorado and Georgia locations, he said it is part of the company's overall plan to integrate operations.

"It's not just a Universal Card initiative. It's a Citibank company-wide restructuring initiative. It's looking at cost efficiencies. It's standardizing and consolidating our operations into fewer centers but larger centers . . .," Reid said.

"What we're doing is necessary if we're going to be a low-cost, high-quality competitor in the financial services industry. We can't afford to have redundant back-office functions."

All calls to the company office in Salt Lake City Tuesday morning were referred to Reid.