Tightening of sanctions forces Sberbank to cut back European operations

25/09/2017

Sberbank CEO Herman GrefRussia’s state-owned Sberbank has indicated that it intends to pull out of “several” European countries where sanctions are making life “extremely difficult” for it, its CEO Herman Gref told Russian state television on Friday.
Sberbank had been barred from raising debt of more than 30 days’ maturity in Europe since 2014, when sanctions were imposed in response to the annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis, and this was cut down to 14 days earlier this year in response to Russia’s alleged meddling in last year’s presidential election.
“We’re not a big bank in Europe, but they’ve made us a systemically important bank under the direct control and regulation of the European Central Bank,” Gref said. “This obviously makes the life of a small bank very difficult. Taking all the losses that come with ECB regulation is a very difficult task.” Gref was referring to the Sberbank’s classification by the ECB as one of the continent’s 125 most significant institutions and therefore subject to regular stress tests. 
He did not say which countries Sberbank plans to leave or what it plans for its offices there, though he said the bank would “optimise” its main European office in Austria. Sberbank is already trying to sell its two Ukrainian subsidiaries after Kiev introduced sanctions this year aimed at forcing Russian banks to leave.
Russia’s VTB bank has also been feeling the heat and this summer its CEO Andrei Kostin announced that it was planning to close its French operation and to shift its European headquarters from Vienna to Frankfurt by folding its two subsidiaries in those cities into one as a means of avoiding the ‘significant’ classification. 

Source: FT