Sberbank reaffirms investment-banking push

By:
Dominic O’Neill
Published on:

The deputy head of commercial and investment banking at the Russian state lender says aggressive growth continues after the departure of Todd Berman, head of investment banking.

Russia-focused investment bankers hoping Sberbank might be cutting back – to boost their deal flow – could be disappointed.

Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, made a series of hires in investment banking alongside its 2012 acquisition of local investment bank Troika Dialog.

However, Todd Berman, Sberbank’s head of investment banking, left this autumn.

The firm has fallen from second to third in Dealogic’s overall investment banking revenue league table for 2013 to date. It has fallen out of the top-five bookrunners in the equity and Eurobond league tables.

Meanwhile, some saw the appointments of Lev Khasis and Maxim Poletaev as Sberbank’s first deputy chairmen this year as a slight to managers responsible for the Troika Dialog acquisition: perhaps a sign that investment banking was falling out of focus.

The state-owned firm had around 100 front-office staff in its investment-banking division before a reorganization in September, which saw 60 of the bankers shifted to an integrated corporate and investment banking coverage unit.

Alexander Bazarov, Sberbank’s deputy head of corporate and investment banking
Alexander Bazarov, Sberbank’s deputy head of corporate and investment banking, says this integration of corporate and investment banking client coverage does not mean Sberbank has reduced its number of investment bankers.

“Our strategy is to continue building up until we become as dominant in investment banking as we are in commercial banking,” says Bazarov. “We’re still growing very aggressively. The investment banking team is now bigger and better staffed compared with the beginning of 2013.”

Bazarov says Sberbank’s global markets division makes about four times more money than its investment banking division, with fixed income, currencies and commodities, an area in which the firm has announced recent hires, the main revenue driver.

For an in-depth investigation into the bruising battle for a slice of the Russian investment-banking pie, watch this space for Euromoney’s January edition.