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Inkombank: Rising from the ashes

There can be no stronger sign of progress in Russian financial structuring than the news of the revival of Inkombank, one of the institutions worst hit in the crisis.

A year ago, Russia's largest commercial bank closed its doors, unable to pay its creditors. Inkombank disappeared from public view, only to emerge again a few months ago when management announced plans to resurrect the bank. Some belittle the efforts and have given up on the notion that even one Russian bank might restructure and reopen in a decent way. They might be wrong.

In May, the bank's supervisory board - with all main shareholders on it - accepted a complicated restructuring plan. The driving force for their decision is that it's more profitable to reopen Inkombank than to bankrupt it. The bank's main creditors tentatively agreed.

"After nine months in the job, I believe that all legal, commercial and political requirements could be fulfilled to keep the bank open," says Inkombank's temporary general manager Vladimir Alexeev, who was appointed last November by a Russian court to look after the interests of the bank's 300,000 personal deposit holders and 35,000 business creditors.

With resurrection its new goal, Inkombank has started repaying small private depositors their savings that they deemed lost after the bank's collapse in August 1998.

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