The lender has warned that its likely departure will cause a decline in profit
FILE PHOTO: A Raiffeisen Bank office on River Moika Embankment in St. Petersburg. © Getty Images / Alexei Danichev
Austrian banking group Raiffeisen, one of the last major Western lenders in Russia, announced on Thursday it was considering selling its business in the sanctioned country amid mounting pressure from the US and EU.
Raiffeisen plays a crucial role in the Russian economy, providing a lifeline for euro payments to and from the country. It’s one of only two foreign banks on the Russian Central Bank’s list of 13 systemically important credit institutions, the other being Italy’s UniCredit.
Speaking at the bank’s annual general meeting, CEO Johann Strobl announced that Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) “will pursue possible transactions that can lead to a sale or a spin-off of Raiffeisenbank Russia and its deconsolidation from the RBI group.”
In recent months, Austria’s second-biggest credit institution has been under growing pressure from Western officials and investors. The European Central Bank (ECB) reportedly urged the lender to quit the Russian market after a top US official visited Vienna last month, and voiced concerns about the lender’s operations in Russia. The RBI Group, which owns the bank, has been under scrutiny from the US and the EU over potential breaches of Western sanctions.