The head of domestic equity sales at Russia's Sberbank CIB Kirill Gromov and senior equity salesman Dmitry Ansimov have been axed as sanctions and a crash in commodity prices has curbed business.
"We thank Kirill and Dmitry for their work and wish them luck in all their future projects," Sberbank CIB said in an e-mailed statement confirming their departures to bne IntelliNews.
Gromov had been with the bank for ten years after joining Troika Dialog in 2006. Ansimov had joined Troika in 2007 from Bank Elektronika. Troika Dialog, Moscow's oldest brokerage, was acquired by Sberbank for $1bn in 2012 and rebranded as Sberbank CIB.
"There's only Alexander Trofimov left in equity sales in Moscow," a source close to Sberbank CIB told bne IntelliNews. "But the research team still more or less intact." Sberbank CIB declined to comment on who remained on the Moscow team.
Kingsmill Bond, Sberbank CIB's Cambridge-educated chief strategist, also parted company with the bank last month. He was replaced by his deputy Alexei Kuznetsov while editor Cole Acheson was promoted last year to equity analyst.
A slump in trading and deal-making, caused by the collapse in commodities and sanctions over Ukraine, has led to investment banks slashing their headcount in Moscow over the past 18 months. Sberbank CIB investment banking fees plunged 72% to $13mn last year from $47mn in 2014, according to data provided by New York consultancy Freeman & Co.
Sberbank CIB last year cut at least seven bankers in its London office, reducing staff there to less than 40.
European Union and US sanctions against Sberbank and VTB over the Ukraine conflict are hampering banks in ways that go beyond the initial design, which was to restrict their ability to borrow on international markets. Some fund managers have flatly refused to do any business Russian firms for fear of drawing regulatory scrutiny and weighty fines.
VTB Chief Executive Officer Andrey Kostin has warned that he doesn't expect US sanctions to be lifted for another three years. The EU prolonged its measures against Russia by six months at the end of last year.
Sberbank, which is run by former economy minister Herman Gref, said the bank is focusing its investment banking expansion on Russia's regions instead of abroad. It has offices in London, New York and Cyprus.
Its London business more than quadrupled its losses in 2014 as sanctions over Ukraine led to many investors avoiding working with the Russian investment bank. The hit was then compounded by an almost $5mn sexual discrimination award against the division by former sales executive Svetlana Lokhova.
The UK investment banking unit of Russia's largest lender posted a £4.93mn loss in 2014 compared with a drop of £894,000 for 2013, according to filings made in late August with Companies House.
"For many clients, the backdrop of the sanctions has led to a soft embargo where its regarded more prudent to avoid transacting in Russia markets or with Russian-owned counterparties than to risk falling foul of the sanctions framework," Paolo Zaniboni, chief executive of Sberbank CIB in the UK, said in the filing.
Further privatisation of Sberbank was ruled out on January 29 by President Putin after the government put together a list of state assets to be sold to cover a budget deficit.
"We will not return to this issue in the medium term," Putin told a meeting with key economy ministers with whom he was discussing privatisation plans for this year.
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