What’s going on at Renaissance Capital?


Abigail Hofman
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To the outsider, this reorganization again seems odd.

John Hyman used to work for Kelleher at Morgan Stanley when Hyman was co-head of capital markets at the firm. Now Hyman has been elevated from deputy CEO to CEO of Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital. Steve Jennings, the founder of Renaissance Capital, has retreated from his own firm. He sold the remaining 50% of RenCap, as well as Renaissance’s profitable domestic consumer credit business, Renaissance Credit, to Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who owns the Onexim Group. Jennings is left running Renaissance Asset Managers and a mix of other businesses such as Rendeavour (an African urban development business), Renaissance Credit Nigeria (an African consumer lender) and Renaissance Real Estate.

To the outsider, this reorganization again seems odd. Renaissance Capital must have been finding the going tough for Jennings to sell it. Was it haemorrhaging money? This year there has been savage cost-cutting of the Asian operations: offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and India have been closed as the group focused on Russia and Africa.

In 2008, when Jennings sold the original 50% stake to the ominous, but now omnipotent, Onexim, Renaissance Capital was said to be valued at $1 billion. This was apparently one quarter of the price that had been bandied around the previous year when RenCap had been in discussions with domestic lender VTB. The purchase price of this latest 50% stake has not been disclosed. I would love to know what it was. My gut says it might have been on the low side as this deal has the whiff of panic about it. I have always liked Hyman and I wish him well in a new role that will be both challenging and exciting.

More generally, international banks that waffle about the potential to grow their emerging market businesses should take note. Increasingly, it seems that the incumbents are eating the foreigners’ lunch. This has been the case both in China and now in Russia. In retrospect, maybe Bank of America’s unseemly rush to offload its stake in Chinese bank China Construction Bank, was not so foolhardy after all.

How was your month? Please send news and views to Abigail@euromoney.com