Renaissance Group reportedly set to close Ukraine office

By bne IntelliNews January 16, 2013

bne -

Moscow-based Renaissance Group is set to join peers by closing its Ukrainian division, as investment banks continue to give up on the market due to low liquidity and poor prospects.

Citing two unnamed former employees of Renaissance Capital, Forbes Ukraine reports that the struggling investment bank is about to scrap its Ukraine operation entirely, after handing in its brokerage licence late last year. However, senior figures in the Ukrainian office denied the report, while Interfax reports that it has been unable to confirm the news.

Ihor Bilous, who until recently was director of the investment and banking department of the company, claimed: "this is not so." The sources claim that Bilous and co-director Roman Nasirov will now act as freelance advisors for Renaissance Group.

Renaissance Group's equities unit Renaissance Capital submitted documents to the National Commission for Securities and the Stock Market of Ukraine in September to cancel its licence to act as a trader and keeper of securities, referring to the low attractiveness of the Ukrainian stock market.

However, the bank said at the time that it would retain its office in Ukraine and continue actively trading shares of Ukrainian issuers listed abroad. The company also explained that it retains a private equity investment into an agricultural holding and so would keep its office in Ukraine.

The decision to finally quit Ukraine - if accurate - appears to reflect issues on both sides. On the one hand, it extends the slide of the Ukrainian market into irrelevance. In the last year or so, Georgia's BG Capital and Russia's Alfa Bank have also quit the country. With the economy gripped by crisis once more and the oligarchs behind President Viktor Yanukovych grabbing up all they can, trading had sunk to a little as a couple of million dollars a day in late 2012.

At the same time, Renaissance Group has been struggling through the crisis. Buffeted by its mid-sized profile and lack of conventional banking operations - as well as the rise of state giants Sberbank and VTB in its home market - in November the group completed the sale of the remaining 51% in Renaissance Capital to Russian oligarch MikhailProkhorov. Renaissance Group said at the time that it would now concentrate on asset management.

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