Russia’s Gazprombank Is Looking Into Selling Its Swiss Operations

Russia’s Gazprombank is looking into strategic options for its Swiss operations, including the sale of all or portions of it, according to Zurich-based Gazprombank Switzerland.

Because the other big Russian banks are sanctioned for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Gazprombank is one of the only surviving routes for financing commercial flows between Russia and Switzerland.

Its Swiss operation, which employs approximately 80 employees, is primarily engaged in trade and export financing, including assisting Swiss industrial groupings in financing exports to Eastern Europe. It also funds commodity dealers’ extraction, transportation, and processing of raw resources from Russia to Western Europe.

“The Bank currently expects to conclude the strategic review process – including finding an investor if such option is pursued – by the end of the third quarter of 2022,” it said.

According to one industry insider who declined to be named, the bank may be valued at roughly 150 million Swiss francs ($154 million) based on equity of about 200 million Swiss francs.

Financial investors or other banks could be potential bidders for parts or all of Gazprombank, according to a representative for Gazprombank Switzerland, who declined to comment on a valuation.

According to an industry source, commodity traders may be interested in Gazprombank Switzerland, and the first potential purchasers have already indicated interest.

“It is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to regularly review the strategic orientation of a bank and to realign the business model if necessary,” the spokesperson said when asked whether existing or potential international sanctions had triggered the strategic review.

When asked if the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA had any effect, a bank representative stated, “The initiated strategy review is in the bank’s own interest and not due to external pressure.”

The spokeswoman stated that Gazprombank Switzerland was well capitalised and operationally positioned.

According to the most recent publicly available data, Gazprombank Switzerland earned 3 million Swiss francs in the first half of 2021, down from 4 million the previous year.

Gazprombank isn’t the only Swiss unit of a major Russian bank that could be sold shortly.

Sberbank’s limitations have been relaxed by FINMA (Switzerland). According to the watchdog, this would allow the bank to decrease its balance sheet in preparation for a prospective sale or change of ownership.

(Adapted from Reuters.com)

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