Raiffeisen Bank suffocates under ECB's pressure in Russia

Austria's Raiffeisen Bank finds itself in unprecedented situation in Russia

Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International considers selling the Russian division or withdrawing it from the structure of the group.

Raiffeisen's "daughter" will continue running "certain banking activities" in Russia to maintain license. At the moment, the bank can not get rid of all of its business in Russia, but is striving for this to happen, RBI CEO Johann Strobl said.

The RBI Group in Russia is represented by Raiffeisenbank, as well as leasing, insurance and management companies. The company's subdivisions employ over 9,000 people.

The company announced further actions regarding its business in Russia as a result of pressure on the part of the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB does not require Raiffeisenbank to leave the country immediately, but is waiting for a specific action plan to stop its businesses in Russia.

The Austrian financial group stopped cooperating with large Russian clients against the backdrop of the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine. Since February 2022, the RBI has reduced its corporate loan portfolio to local businesses by 30 percent.

The decision of the group of reduce its business activities in Russia will include such measures as reductions in lending and the total volume of foreign exchange transactions in Russia.

"Market conditions for doing business in Russia are very difficult. Local and international laws and regulations governing the sale of business in Russia are subject to constant change,” Raiffeisen Bank said.

Raiffeisen Bank is the most important Western bank in Russia. It accounts for about a quarter of all euro transfers to the Russian Federation, Reuters said.

It is worthy of note that several other European credit institutions, such as Italy's UniCredit, retained business in Russia.

In 2022, Raiffeisen Bank's net profit in the Russian market quadrupled from €474 million a year earlier to €2 billion. The group's post-tax profit for the past year amounted to €3.8 billion. Thus, the Russian business brought Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) more than half of net income (54%).

Last month, the US Treasury asked Raiffeisen Bank to clarify the payment business and related processes in light of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Reuters experts then noted that such inspections were regular — they did not imply any automatic penalties. The Austrian government did not see any reason for concern either.

It is worthy of note that Ukraine put Raiffeisen Bank on the list of "war sponsors" in late March for continuing its work in Russia, recognising the so-called DPR and LPR and for providing favorable credit conditions to the Russian military.

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Author`s name Petr Ermilin
Editor Dmitry Sudakov