Fiba’s Credit Europe Bank to exit Russia
Hülya Güler – ISTANBULTurkish Fiba Holding’s Credit Europe Bank is exiting the Russian market, according to daily Kommersant, at a time when economic relations between the two countries continue to deteriorate in the wake of the jet-downing crisis in November 2015.
Credit Europe Bank, which entered the Russian banking market in 1997, has authorized Morgan Stanley to sell its operations in the country, said the Russian daily, a claim that has not been denied by Fiba Holding.
This would be the first big exit of a Turkish enterprise from Russia since the crisis erupted between the two countries.
“The relations between the two countries do not seem promising in the near future. [Fiba chairman] Hüsnü Özyeğin’s decision is very strategic at this point. They are looking for ways to exit the Russian market as soon as possible before the companies see huge losses in customers and in business. Exiting soon is the best choice as it is the inevitable end. We expect that the exits will continue,” sources told daily Hürriyet.
Political and economic relations between Ankara and Moscow deteriorated after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that reportedly violated its border with Syria on Nov. 24, 2015.
The incident further stoked tensions between the two countries, which support opposite sides in Syria’s civil war.
Another source said that in addition to the rift between the two countries, the financial crisis in Russia was influential in the decision to exit.
“The economic conditions have been very tough recently in Russia. Some small businesses have already started to exit as this may continue. But we, as big businesses, still hope that the relations and the country’s economy can improve,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Credit Europe Bank currently operates in 12 countries and has 69 offices and 115 branches in 30 economically developed cities in Russia including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Ufa, Novosibirsk and Rostov.
The bank has over 14,000 commercial outlets and 560 ATMs in the country.
According to the bank’s website, as of Jan. 1 Credit Europe Bank has 4.5 million private banking, 1600 corporate and over 14,000 SME customers. The bank is among the biggest 50 banks in partners’ equity, and was the 53rd largest bank in Russia last year by assets, according to a ranking by Interfax.
The bank’s main shareholder, Fiba Holding, is also the main distributor of brands like GAP and Marks&Spencer in Russia.
Speaking to Hürriyet, sources said Özyeğin took the decision to sell the bank very recently and there were potential buyers already, as it confirmed the information that Oleg Tinkov, who established the Tinkoff Bank in 2006, was intending to buy Credit Europe Bank Russia.
However Fiba Holding highlighted that it was considering its options and for now had not agreed with any buyers.