Russia: special focus
Euromoney's latest coverage of macroeconomic, FX, fixed income and equity market trends in the oil-producing economy.
Tinkoff Mobile targets middle class with premium service; Sberbank offers free package to cut telecoms bill.
The 'Hissy fit of the year' award: Russia versus the EBRD.
Primary issuance back to 2013 levels; private-sector names prove popular with investors.
A pair of multibillion-dollar bank bailouts in under a month has roiled Russia’s banking sector and raised questions about the regulator’s competence – Dmitry Tulin, the central bank’s new head of banking supervision, insists such criticism is misguided.
Anyone trying to keep track of attitudes to cryptocurrencies among Russian policymakers could be forgiven for feeling a trifle dizzy going into December.
One large bank bailout may be seen as a misfortune; two certainly raise some questions.
Silk Road Fund 10% purchase of stake in Sibur (Russia).
Deposit run sparks Russia’s largest-ever bank rescue; central bank criticized for allowing debt-fuelled expansion spree.
Roman Lokhov has transformed BCS from a Russian retail broker to a full-service investment bank through a combination of technology, transparency and opportunism. Now he is looking to bring a new generation of Russian companies to the global markets.
Spreads at multi-year lows as demand remains buoyant; Investors reverse underweight positions.
Euromoney’s latest Country Risk Survey shows a gradual rebalancing of risk scores this year, as the aftershocks of the global banking and sovereign debt crises wear off, political risks tied to the European electoral cycle fade, and capital access improves for EMs.
Experts are beginning to feel more confident about Russia’s prospects, and its credit ratings will ultimately reflect this.
International investors regain appetite for Russian stocks; Sovcomflot privatization on the table again.
International banks recently put up an unsecured loan for a Russian borrower with a parent on the US sanctions list. Has the loan market for unsanctioned investment-grade Russian borrowers just got broader, deeper and potentially cheaper?
Russia’s leading investment bank has seen its fortunes fluctuate over the past two years. Alexei Yakovitsky, VTB Capital’s chief executive, talks to Euromoney about Brexit, Africa and state ownership and explains why sanctions have proved more of a blessing than a curse.
Matrix Capital to offer fund management, advisory; ‘perfect fit’ for global banks in era of Russia pullback.
US investors shun Russian privatization; global banks not required, say locals.
June 14, 2016
The rouble has enjoyed a strong start to the year, shrugging off underlying weakness in the Russian economy, leading the CBR to hike rates by 50 basis points on Friday.
Timing is right for Post Bank launch, says chairman. Branch network ‘will be bigger than Sberbank’s’.
Investment-banking volumes in emerging Europe have fallen to their lowest levels for more than a decade. Some international banks are withdrawing capacity, while there is little sign of a pick up in the capital markets. So why are some of the universal banks still making positive noises?
VTB Capital cemented its position as Moscow’s leading investment bank last year. With cross-border deals for Chinese and Indian clients it is becoming more than just the adviser of choice for Russian corporates. But will the firm’s ambitions get the better of it?
While irked by western dominance of Swift and determined to assert its monetary independence, the prospect of Russia going it alone on payments and messaging remains remote.
Russia is a safe haven, say bankers; local liquidity holding back supply.
Bad debts spark second wave of sector losses; CEO says low-cost, credit card model key to success.
Elvira Nabiullina, Euromoney’s central bank governor of the year, is staunchly sticking to her controversial crisis-fighting plan as Russia reels from its biggest financial crisis since 1998. As sanctions and falling commodity prices threaten Putin’s oil-financed state patronage, the central bank – the last bastion of economic orthodoxy – is battling to craft a new growth model. Can Nabiullina turn crisis into opportunity?
In 2013, Russia’s central bank became a mega-regulator, overseeing a slew of credit institutions, from banks, insurance agencies, investment vehicles, micro-finance houses to pawnshops. That makes Elvira Nabiullina the most powerful central banker in modern Russian history.
Central Bank of Russia governor Elvira Nabiullina is using orthodox but painful policy measures to combat the oil- and sanctions-driven storm that is ravaging the economy.
Elvira Nabiullina, governor of the Central Bank of Russia, has been named Euromoney’s Central Bank Governor of the Year for 2015.
A prolific bank buyer but notoriously publicity-shy, Igor Kim is little known outside his native Russia. In his first major interview with the international media, he talks about expanding into Europe, surviving a spell on Canada’s sanctions list and why global banking models are doomed to failure.
More secondary listings likely; consumer, tech, export stocks in focus.
Two successful IPOs should have been good news for the country’s markets – if anyone had bothered to tell the world more about them.
Banks are prepared to sit through a couple of lean years in emerging Europe’s largest market, given that it will bounce back eventually. They might not want to get too optimistic though.
The impact of international sanctions, economic slowdown and a plunging rouble was felt throughout the Russian banking sector last year.
The rouble’s crash sent currencies tumbling across the Caucasus and Central Asia. Banks look relatively well placed to withstand an inevitable downturn. But with protracted stagnation looming, is it time for policymakers to build bridges further afield?
In Russia, Raiffeisen is set to close operations in six far eastern regions and 15 smaller cities across the country, as well as pull back from the auto loan market. Sevelda says the bank will also take steps to improve the quality of its loan portfolio in Russia.
Russia’s mounting problems caused by the sanctions and low oil prices undermining the rouble extended its trend decline into Q1 2015.
Belarus’s leaders are promising a dramatic package of reforms that could overhaul the country’s sclerotic command economy and reduce its dependence on Russia. The only trouble is, no one believes them. Mixed messages to the bond markets haven’t helped.
Russia has been caught in the eye of a perfect storm. Battered by falling oil prices, US and EU sanctions and a dramatic market correction as the rouble was allowed to float, the currency has been in free-fall and liquidity has largely evaporated, with many brokers ceasing rouble trading altogether.
Negative oil shock compounds Russia crisis.
As Europe has stagnated since the financial crisis, Russia proved an invaluable source of returns for a handful of lucky western banking groups. But with Putin on the offensive, the rouble on the slide and recession on the horizon, its days as an engine of regional growth look to be over.
The growing likelihood of an economic crisis in Russia will have a major impact on global markets in 2015.
Rouble brews trouble for Russia
Russia’s and Venezuela’s plight was predicted by Euromoney’s country risk survey well before the market priced in their deteriorating creditworthiness. Other, similarly ranked oil-producing sovereigns could endure a similar fate.
Moscow’s revamped stock exchange has everything it takes to be a global player, with the exception of supply and demand. Has Russia’s isolation put a dampener on its ambitious domestic capital markets development programme?
The latest results of a systemic risk index reveal elevated risks in Russia, Portugal and France but a generally marked improvement across the rest of Europe.
As sanctions and falling oil prices force the rouble’s slide, country risk experts are questioning the ability of privately owned and/or state-backed banks and corporates to obtain credit and repay their debts amid capital flight and an economy in decline.
Analysts support the Central Bank of Russia’s (CBR) response to the collapse of the rouble – abandoning the dollar band and providing new channels to funnel liquidity to the market – arguing it will shift market expectations and could stabilize the currency in the medium-term. In an interview with Euromoney before the move, a CBR official discusses the opportunities and challenges in the regime shift.
While sanctions are hitting the Russian markets and pushing up interest rates, senior executives at Sberbank and potash producer Uralkali tell Euromoney the country’s banks and corporates are looking internally and to the east for new sources of financing. But with Russia sliding towards recession, liquidity is vanishing.
I was intrigued to see that Blackstone, the leading private equity firm, is disengaging from Russia.
Sector profitability holding up; central bank adds dollars to liquidity provision.
CEE enthusiasts should not despair just yet. A number of the clouds handing over the region might turn out, on closer inspection, to have a silver lining.
Incensed by their failure to reform, Brics policymakers have established a flawed rival to the World Bank and IMF. Rhetoric aside, the west dismisses emerging-market dissent over the broken financial architecture at its peril.
Sanctions overs the conflict in Ukraine have closed off western capital markets to some Russian companies, giving Asia an opportunity to take a greater role. But an easy ride in the east is not guaranteed.
Philosopher, philanthropist and father of 23 – Roman Avdeev is a far cry from the stereotype of Russian oligarch. Yet his ownership of Credit Bank of Moscow, one of the country’s fastest-growing lenders, along with canny deal-making in sectors from retail to pharmaceuticals, is fast propelling him up the rich list. And his status as one of Russia’s most independent billionaires gives him a unique insight into the country’s current pariah status.
Russia’s consumer lenders are the modern face of Russian finance, and could prove resilient to the current crisis.
The escalating conflict in Ukraine and sanctions placed on Russia by the EU and the US are pushing private Russian money into Asian wealth centres and encouraging the country’s corporates to seek new sources of funding in the region.
The outrageous swings in fortune of Renaissance Capital over the past 20 years are the stuff of Hollywood legend. But what’s the next instalment for the Moscow-based investment bank? Out of Africa? Or just back to being The Russia House?
The Russian rouble is facing strong headwinds as the political fall-out over the fatal MH17 plane crash and fresh economic sanctions bite, with analysts predicting a tough year ahead for the Bric currency.
Joint investment fund undertakes new deals; Kazakhstan's nationalized bank sell-offs set to go.
The Washington-led sanctions on Russia, as well as officials and associates in the Putin circle, are toothless, Oleksandr Shlapak, Ukraine's post-revolution finance minister, tells Euromoney.
Hopes that Russian issuers can fund all their needs in Asia's markets are likely to be misplaced. But it will become a more important market for them, sanctions or not.
Fallout from the Ukraine crisis has not yet hurt the country's planned infrastructure development programme. But sanctions or not, Russia will be hard pushed to meet its long-term target in the domestic finance market alone.
Banks and their corporate clients are scrabbling to get up to speed and comply with a growing slate of US and European sanctions against Russia – or face unlimited fines and imprisonment.
The battle between the west and Russia over Ukraine is intensifying amid a full-on financial war. Euromoney investigates the foreign-currency credit crunch for Russian borrowers.
Russia's adventures in Ukraine are adversely affecting its international issuance. And at home they will stifle ambitions to develop an international financial centre.
The crisis in Crimea should give the west pause for thought in its relations with eastern European states and with Russia.
Russia-US tensions over Ukraine could be the 'first major political conflict that is played out in international financial markets', according to Citi, as sanctions take their bite.
Treasury professionals of companies with combined annual sales of more than $250 billion have voted China, India and Russia as the worst countries to repatriate company funds from, according to Euromoney’s ‘trapped cash’ pulse survey.
Five CIOs discuss asset allocation changes in light of the tension in the border countries.
Russia’s muscular posture on the Crimean region of Ukraine, re-awakening Cold War tensions, threatens to tip the economy into a mild recession and has put a spotlight on the country’s structural weaknesses amid political risk, say analysts.
While OTP and Raiffeisen are vulnerable to FX losses and a slowdown in Russia and Ukraine, the impact should be manageable, though there are some exceptions.
Although current account deterioration, persistent capital outflows and the Ukraine crisis would seem to weaken rouble, the central bank’s flexible FX regime should keep the currency out of turmoil, say analysts.
The scale of Ukraine’s challenge to correct economic balances is staggering, even if a political consensus is reached that would see an IMF support package. What’s more, markets might be understating sovereign default risk given strict debt covenants in the 2015 Russian-backed dollar bond that is sure to be used in a regional chess game, say analysts.
There was no shortage of bond issuance from emerging Europe in the early part of 2013 before tapering fears set in. While deal sizes and volumes hit record levels, however, innovation was thin on the ground.
Central and eastern Europe is attractive for private equity houses. But they need to get their priorities right.
Russian and western firms have shovelled millions into investment banks in Russia. Although their ranks are much diminished, they remain dug in: doggedly hopeful, despite little chance of a change in their prospects.
In an in-depth interview with Euromoney, the head of the powerful Russian state lender discusses domestic bank competition, regulation, credit growth and reveals the impact of state ownership.
VTB’s chief executive likens his role in Russian banking to that of a surgeon in a state-owned clinic. He’s certainly carved out a strong position in corporate and investment banking. He insists he can operate successfully in Russia’s new state-controlled capitalism, while resisting political pressure. Can he make what critics call his ‘grandiose scheme’ for VTB work?
A new generation of firms are seeking market share from more established players in an already crowded investment-banking scene.
As growth slows, Russia needs to become less volatile as a market.
Uralkali head says Kerimov sale won’t result in excessive leverage
CFO and acting CEO Viktor Belyakov defends his firm’s strategy amid one of Russia’s biggest corporate dramas this year.
Tinkoff has sold a clever story of another kind of Russian bank.
Issuer ‘comes of age’; creates first euro benchmark.
The IPO of Tinkoff Credit Systems, a Russian consumer finance bank, trounces rivals’ valuations, even as bad debts tick up and tighter regulations loom.
During the past three years, Russian banks have plastered over holes in the corporate sector with record profits from retail. The choice now might be between fuelling a bubble or stagnation.
In mid-2013, Rusal had its lowest net debt level since 2008: less than $10 billion, Oleg Mukhamedshin, deputy CEO, tells Euromoney. He says the firm hopes to reduce debt further – from six times ebitda – via internal cashflow, dividends from Norilsk Nickel, assets disposals and new equity issuance.
Elvira Nabiullina’s post policy-meeting press conference in July was a first both for her and for the Russian central bank, which she joined as governor on June 24. And although the central bank kept its main policy rates on hold, Nabiullina was by no means short of things to talk about.
Kazakhstan is set to remain the safest country in central Asia, and as the economy diversifies away from hydrocarbon and mineral reserves, it could soon precede Russia in the Euromoney Country Risk rankings.
With one or two exceptions, the majority of former Soviet independent states, alongside Russia, have become riskier this year, continuing longer-term trends.
The first quarter of 2013 showed the effect of a more difficult rate environment for Russia’s biggest bank, but in 2012 Sberbank proved that it could continue to increase its profit, even after spectacular rises in 2011 and 2010.
Qatar’s investment in VTB helps future deals between Russia and the Gulf, but relations will remain difficult.
Sberbank CEO German Gref says he has led Russia’s biggest bank through a thorough transformation. It has grown onto the international stage and bulked up in investment banking. What are his objectives, and how does he see its role at home and in the region?
Russia, Venezuela, Pakistan and Ukraine were considered the most corrupt emerging markets, according to country risk experts.
Russia’s largely state-owned banking sector needs greater competition to help catalyze private sector investment as the economy enters a new era of permanently weaker growth and lower oil prices, say analysts.
Cyprus’s problems stem in part from doing business in Russia. But the Russian state’s attitude doesn’t make keeping money at home enticing.
Putin gets a strong but pliant central bank governor in Elvira Nabiullina. She might please other constituents too.
Sberbank chief German Gref, who – as the former economics minister – was the boss of Central Bank of Russia governor-designate Elvira Nabiullina, says the bank’s dominance in the country’s economic affairs won’t exert undue influence over monetary policymaking.
A record-breaking loan for Russian oil firm Rosneft last month portends a resurgence in regional buyouts, say loans bankers involved in the deal. Prospects in the Middle East and South Africa might also be looking up.
Internationally marketed local-currency issuance has become the latest twist to a booming emerging market bond market. Russian and Turkish banks and corporates are playing a leading role, issuing new Euroclearable, foreign-law bonds in roubles and Turkish liras.
Once seasonal rouble demand for tax payments has passed later this month, the currency should suffer, given Russia’s close links to Cyprus.
The ramifications of selling contingent convertible bonds to retail buyers could be brutally illustrated by the bailout of Cyprus’s banking sector, while ties with Russia complicate strategy.
A trio of successful listings out of emerging Europe has boosted bankers’ hopes of an equity primary markets renaissance in 2013, with prospects for further supply from Russia, Turkey and beyond.
Buy now while stocks last! That seemed to be the sales pitch in a $3 billion debut Eurobond from Russian state-owned oil firm Rosneft late last year.
There are good strategic reasons for Sberbank to be concerned about the growth of such operations as Tinkoff and Home Credit: and good reason for a counter-attack.
Russia must employ careful persistence in its movement towards a floating exchange rate.
Oleg Tinkov is at the forefront of the consumer-banking boom that is changing Russian finance. Tinkoff Credit Systems encapsulates all that is innovative – and risky – about the sector. This bank and others like it have everything the state banks lack. But in Russia that can mean trouble.
The Russian government’s desire to build an international financial centre in Moscow is genuine. However, the government’s market infrastructure reforms are also driven by other short-term and long-term motivations.
A central securities depository, liberalization of the local bond market, movement to T+2 settlement and a stock exchange merger – it’s all very welcome in Russia’s capital markets. But work remains to be done if its infrastructure is to catch up with its peers.
Struggling companies in central and eastern Europe can hope for new investment from VTB Capital this year, particularly via debt-for-equity restructurings.
Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Group is taking control of Renaissance Capital, the billionaire’s holding firm announced in November. Although the investment bank will not change its name, the acquisition ushers in a new era for RenCap.
A wave of lower tier 2 issuance will not deal with Russian banks’ strained capital levels.
Euroclear Bank has been granted access to Russia’s central securities depository, opening the way for a substantial step-up in foreign participation in the country’s domestic bond market.
The opening up of Russia’s bond markets is a game changer that will boost the rouble, according to Société Générale.
Russia’s biggest lender, Sberbank, sold $5.2 billion of stock in a secondary offering in Moscow and London in mid-September – its first international listing. The deal reduced the central bank’s stake in the bank to 51%.
Corporates looking to transact USDRUB could be the first group to benefit from new signs that the country’s domestic currency market is becoming more open.
When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, few investors envisaged that the newly created republics would compete with their more westernized, democratic and reform-minded neighbours in central and eastern Europe. Two decades on, however, several – including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan – are developing at a rapid pace.
Alexei Kudrin thinks he has a solution to Russia’s twin troubles: anti-Putin street protests and an oil-financed pot of state patronage that is rapidly running out. The former finance minister tells Euromoney about his programme for reform and what he is doing to see it implemented.
As president Vladimir Putin enters his third term, one of the main critics of the political and corruption risks in Russia is Bill Browder, chief executive of London hedge fund Hermitage Capital.
Russia is planning to launch a new state-owned investment agency next year to invest the country’s oil wealth in global financial markets, finance minister Anton Siluanov tells Euromoney in an exclusive interview.
Russia’s finance minister is, in the words of his predecessor, a rare example of a liberal in the government. But can he do enough, quickly enough, to shore up the government’s finances in its post-election spending hangover?
Moscow’s financial community has been abuzz in recent weeks with news of Otkritie Financial Corporation’s proposed takeover of Nomos Bank. But the deal is not without its critics.
VTB’s $1 billion perpetual bond this summer – the first in Russia – was partly modelled on a similar issue by Banco do Brasil in January, says Herbert Moos, VTB’s CFO.