Dozens of foreign banks still trapped in Russia

Dozens of foreign banks still trapped in Russia
Dozens of foreign banks working in Russia would like to leave but a Putin decree requires special permission to pull out leaving them stranded. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews January 17, 2023

Dozens of banks from “unfriendly” countries remain unable to exit the Russian market due to the special decree of Vladimir Putin prohibiting any such deals without a special approval by authorities, The Bell wrote citing a Financial Times list of 45 such banks.

The largest such "trapped" banks in terms of assets are Raiffeisen, Italy's UniCredit and Citi.

Reportedly, negotiations on pulling out of Russia are stifled and the exiting banks fear that their subsidiaries would be taken over at bargain prices by "powerful Russians with close ties to the Kremlin".

The only bank that managed to quickly pull out of Russia was French Societe Generale, which sold its fully-owned Rosbank to oligarch Vladimir Potanin. Potanin remained unsanctioned for four months following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and was quick to use the cash available to buy cheap discounted assets at home, and to rebuild his banking business empire

The Rosbank deal pushed Potanin to the top of the Forbes list of Russian oligarchs that banked the most on dumped Western assets.

Even though Societe Generale had to write off €3.3bn on the exit, "with a quick and orderly disposal, even our competitors congratulated us," a SocGen manager told the Financial Times.

HSBC, which rushed to close the sale of its Russian subsidiary to Igor Kim's Expobank just before Putin’s decree was signed, delegated the negotiations with the authorities to the buyer, according to FT.

Citi is winding down the business of its UniCredit Bank and reportedly is exploring options but does not want to “simply give the asset away”. The bank so far managed to offload its loan book to local UralSib bank. Raiffeisen's real plans are still unknown.

People involved in the preparation of the exit deals surveyed by the Financial Times expect a direct ban by the Kremlin on some of them, and on some, a demand for at least a 50% discount. A minimum 50% discount demand for exiting Russia is consistent with previous financial and real sector deals, as well as official statements on the issue.

"There are very influential Russians with connections in the Kremlin who are trying to use their influence to intercept the assets of fleeing foreigners," unnamed sources told the Financial Times.


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