Alfa Bank: much more than a survivor
One Russian bank not only survived the rouble crisis. It came out stronger.
Alfa Bank did well during the crisis: it managed to maintain its liquidity when competitors were forced to close their doors as depositors started runs at many banks. Alfa president Mikhail Fridman claims that his bank was able to do this because of its conservative approach: it didn't have a big exposure to state treasury bills (GKOs) and dollar forward contracts with foreigners that allow these rouble-denominated bills to be converted into hard currency.
Devaluation of the rouble left most of the Russian banks owing billions on their forward contracts, which had locked in at an exchange rate of about Rb7 to the dollar, after which the exchange rate fell to Rb25.
Alfa's liquidity was also helped by the timely arrival of a loan made to its oil company, Tyumen Oil, and its sale during the crisis of a debt owed to Alfa by Gazprom of about $50 million.