Russian investment banks controlled by the government of President Vladimir Putin are squeezing out foreign competitors, helped by a bailout of the country’s richest men five years ago.
Bloomberg reports that OAO Sberbank, the nation’s biggest lender, and VTB Group have increased investment-banking fee income more than fivefold since 2005, according to data compiled by Freeman & Co., a New York-based consulting firm.
With credit lines abroad frozen after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Russia’s state-run banks stepped in as Putin pledged $200 billion in loans and tax relief to bail out allies who owned strategic businesses. Among companies that received loans were aluminum producer United Co. Rusal, controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, and Evraz Plc (EVR), a steelmaker part-owned by Roman Abramovich. Sberbank and VTB then used their position to leverage follow-up business.
'Russian clients realized that Russian banks didn’t cut and run', Todd Berman, head of investment banking at Moscow-based Sberbank, said in an interview. 'Real relationships are tested in bad times, and we saw that international banks were found wanting. We stood firm and are profiting now'.
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