Sunday, June 23, 2024
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HSBC has completed the transfer of its Russian unit to Expobank for an undisclosed fee, the two lenders announced on Wednesday, concluding nearly two years of negotiations and uncertainty. This move follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval in February for the asset sale to privately owned Expobank.

Expobank confirmed the successful completion of the deal, with HSBC also verifying that ownership had been transferred. “Economic ownership of HSBC Russia has been transferred to Expobank,” HSBC stated, adding that the transaction will be formally finalized once the legal title transfer is registered in the State Corporate Register.

HSBC initially announced in June 2022 that it had agreed to sell its 100% stake in HSBC Bank (RR) LLC to Expobank. The sale required explicit presidential approval due to a 2022 decree prohibiting investors from “unfriendly” countries—those imposing sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine—from selling shares in key energy projects and banks without such approval.

Expobank indicated that the unit would continue operations under a new, unspecified name. European banks, under pressure from Washington and the European Central Bank, are working to extricate themselves from Russia. Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International and Italy’s UniCredit are the largest European lenders remaining in Russia. Another major Italian bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, received Putin’s approval to exit in September 2023, but the deal has been delayed by “bureaucratic steps,” according to its CEO.

HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, announced in September 2023 that it would halt commercial payments by business customers to and from Russia and Belarus, citing sanctions that made operations increasingly challenging. Since announcing its exit from Russia, HSBC has reduced the size of its already small unit, which had a revenue of about $15 million compared to the group’s revenue of over $50 billion. The unit employed about 200 people prior to the conflict in Ukraine, according to former finance chief Ewen Stevenson.

Expobank was sanctioned by the United States in December as part of broader restrictions targeting Moscow’s energy and financial sectors following Russia’s military actions in Ukraine in February 2022.

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