American CEO of Credit Suisse in Russia quits as fees plunge

American CEO of Credit Suisse in Russia quits as fees plunge
Senior foreign banking veterans are leaving Moscow's bleak market.
By Jason Corcoran in Moscow February 17, 2016

Steve Hellman, chief executive of Credit Suisse in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, has quit after six years in the role after the bank's fees almost evaporated last year.

Hellman, who moved to Russia in 2007, will be replaced by Russian Dmitri Kushaev, who currently heads private banking, according to an e-mailed statement from Credit Suisse.

The Swiss bank, which moved part of its Moscow operation to London in 2012, saw its fees plummet by 92% to just $2mn last year from $24mn in 2014, according to data from New-York based Freeman & Co consultancy.

Kushaev joined Credit Suisse from Blackstone Group in December 2014 just months after the US private equity giant pulled out of Russia. He previously has worked in senior roles at ING and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

Amid a wider shake-up at Credit Suisse, head of fixed income Valery Pushnya has been appointed Head of Global Markets Russia, taking on responsibility for both the fixed Income and equities businesses in the country. Leonid Varpahovsky has been named Head of Russia for the investment banking and capital markets division.

The departure of Hellman, a fluent-Russian speaker, comes amid an exodus of senior foreign banking veterans from top posts. Goldman Sachs co-heads, American Nick Jordan and Italian Paolo Zannoni, left the US bank late last year as did the British boss of HSBC Mark Stadler. Joerg Bongartz, the long-time chairman of Deutsche Bank in Russia, returned to Frankfurt not long before the closure of its investment bank in Moscow in September.

US and European firms have been steadily cutting staff and relocating key talent to London as the deal flow trickled. The drop in activity to the lowest in 14 years may now force some firms to re-examine their bet on the nation. Investment banking fees in Russia plunged last year 41% to $208mn from $355mn, according to Freeman & Co.

On February 17, bne IntelliNews exclusively reported on the closure of the first US bank in Moscow since the current crisis over Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict erupted almost two years ago. Jefferies Group closed its offices barely two and a half years after opening for business in the capital.

Credit Suisse, which has operated in Moscow since 1991, started relocating its debt and equity capital markets and mergers and acquisition advisory businesses to London in late 2012. 

Hans Joerg-Rudloff, former chief executive of Credit Suisse First Boston, famously sent bankers Stephen Jennings and Boris Jordan to Russia to scout for deals in the early 1990s. The pair became involved in the state's pilot voucher auctions and soon departed to set up investment bank Renaissance Capital.

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