The Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo has obtained the approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin to sell or transfer its assets in Russia, according to a document posted on Friday on a website of the Russian government, Reuters and news.ro report.
Vladimir PutinPhoto: Mikhail Metzel / AP / Profimedia
Reuters exclusively reported in August that Italy’s biggest bank was moving closer to getting approval to transfer its Russian business to local management, as Moscow’s position on asset divestitures changed.
Intesa declined to comment.
Earlier this year, supervisors from the European Central Bank (ECB) stepped up pressure on banks to reduce their exposure to Russia.
The Italian bank entered the Russian market half a century ago, by opening a representative office, which it decided to close at the beginning of August.
Its local bank, which serves only corporate clients, had 861 employees and 27 branches as of June 30.
The decree, which was dated September 28, cited another decree signed in August 2022 by Putin, which gave him the power to issue special waivers for certain transactions involving energy and financial assets to proceed.
The most recent decree said that Moscow allows transactions that would lead to the direct or indirect sale of 100% of Intesa’s shares.
The bank had stopped new financing to Russian customers and new investments in Russian assets when the conflict broke out. However, the bank has cross-border exposure to the country through loans granted by its domestic business to Russian clients. This amounted to 700 million euros ($741.51 million) at the end of June, without provisions and guarantees for export credits.
Russia has steadily tightened exit requirements since Western companies began leaving shortly after Moscow began what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine in February 2022.
Intesa has been trying since last year to sever ties with its Russian businesses, but Western sanctions hitting potential buyers have made it difficult for European banks, including rival UniCredit and Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank, to leave.
Approval for Intesa’s departure could pave the way for similar approvals for other foreign banks still in Russia.
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