The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Taking on the big two

Bank reform in Russia is hampered by the dominance of the two big state-owned banks, neither of which can be speedily rationalized or sold off without disruption. So although the central bank is now intent on regulatory activism it is seeking to enable competition rather than enforce it.


THE KREMLIN IS faced with a nasty problem. State-owned Vneshtorgbank (VTB) is the second-largest bank in the country and is not a great commercial success but needs to be. State-owned Sberbank, Russia's biggest bank, has become too successful and is squashing the rest of the sector.

These two banks sum up the problems the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) is facing as it makes the first ever concerted effort to reform Russia's ailing financial sector.

Between them the two state-owned banks account for over one-third of the entire sector's assets but the state can't get out of either bank quickly and their very existence is making reforms harder.

Ironically, the government is pitted against itself in trying to boost VTB's attractiveness. Despite its size it still only does about 4% of corporate banking business, on a par with all the other leading private commercial banks. Thanks to a big injection of cash after the 1998 crisis, VTB is overcapitalized and the state won't sell it off until value has been added.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree