Finance News

Europe's largest bank to close retail banking business in Russia

HSBC is to close its retail banking operation in Russia after just 2 years, following in the footsteps of British peer Barclays.

"Following a strategic review it is clear that the strongest opportunity for HSBC in Russia lies in servicing corporate and institutional clients," Huseyin Ozkaya, chief executive at HSBC Russia, said on Monday. "That is why we have taken the decision to exit from our retail business and reduce our Private Banking presence to a representative office."

HSBC, whose Russian unit is among the country's TOP 100 lenders by assets, urged customers to close their accounts by June 30. The move by HSBC, which started retail operations in Russia in mid-2009, followed an announcement by Barclays in February it was to sell its Russian retail unit as it was unable to compete and would focus on investment banking.

Russia's banking sector is dominated by state-owned banks, which control around 60% of the system's overall assets.

Top lenders Sberbank and VTB have also been expanding in investment banking, meaning competition for business being generated by a 1 trillion rouble ($33 billion) state privatisation drive will be tough.

The Russian units of Italian lender UniCredit and Austrian group Raiffeisen Bank International are the largest foreign players in Russia, being eighth and ninth by assets respectively. Along with French bank Societe Generale, they have said they will develop their businesses in Russia.

Source: Reuters
Date: 25.04.2011 [ID: 288]

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