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Oppa Gangnam Style: Raiffeisen Bank International Dances Away from Russia with Planned Exit

Raiffeisen Bank International to Sell or Spin Off Russian Subsidiary

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Austrian Bank Raiffeisen Withdraws from Russian Market

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From Moscow to Vienna, the Banker Red Orchestra has been rockin’ out harder than a bull in a china shop. And despite what you might think, these number-crunching maestros can shred like nobody’s business. They’ve even caught the attention of K-pop superstars who are dying to take them on tour. But things took a hilarious turn at a recent show in Vienna. A group of Austrian bankers had been practicing for weeks to perform “Gangnam Style” and they were ready to bring down the house. As they started dancing and singing, the crowd was going wild. But when it came time for the iconic “Oppa Gangnam Style” chorus, something went terribly wrong. Instead of belting out the words to the song, the bankers accidentally let slip their own secret: “Op, op, op, op, we need a bathroom break!” The audience was initially stunned, but then they couldn’t stop laughing. The bankers were so mortified that they scampered off stage like they’d just seen a ghost. At the Raiffeisen Bank International annual general meeting on Thursday morning, a small group of protesters gathered outside the Vienna Hilton hotel, which is around the corner from the Raiffeisen Bank’s headquarters, to protest against the bank’s presence in Russia. The protesters held placards with slogans such as “Stop Financing War” featuring the Raiffeisen logo. Meanwhile, inside the hotel, the virtual shareholders’ meeting was taking place. The topic of Russia, where the Moscow subsidiary bank contributed around two billion euros to the Raiffeisen Bank International’s total profit of 3.6 billion euros, dominated the meeting from the beginning. The chairman of the meeting, supervisory board chairman Erwin Hameseder, spoke on the subject in his opening address, and Raiffeisen Bank International CEO Johann Strobl also addressed it. Erwin Hameseder stated that the criticism that Raiffeisen Bank International was profiting from the war was “absurd” and that the decision on how to proceed in Russia was very complex. If the Russian subsidiary were to be sold, it should be noted that “the Russian state treasury would also be filled”.


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Johann Strobl then stated that Raiffeisen Bank International was focusing on transactions that would lead to a withdrawal from Russia. Specifically, this involved either a sale or a spin-off. Previously, the bank had kept “all options” open, leading to the impression that it intended to wait out the Ukraine conflict and sanctions. “We have decided to pursue potential transactions that would lead to a sale or spin-off of Raiffeisenbank Russia and its deconsolidation from the Raiffeisen Bank International group in full compliance with local and international laws and regulations and in consultation with the relevant authorities,” CEO Johann Strobl said. While pursuing these potential transactions, Raiffeisen Bank International would continue to reduce its business activities in Russia, he added. Strobl emphasized that even without Russia, Raiffeisen Bank International was still making good profits (around one billion euros) and that the bank’s core capital ratio would remain “robust” even if the Russian subsidiary was deconsolidated. CEO Johann Strobl did not provide a timeline for these options. A spin-off would take several months, while a sale could be quicker if there was a buyer. In both cases, Raiffeisen Bank International would require a series of regulatory approvals, and in the case of a sale, it would also need a buyer who was not sanctioned and a “special decision” from Vladimir Putin. In the event of a spin-off, Raiffeisen Bank International shareholders would own two shares: one for Raiffeisen Bank International without Russia and a second for the Russia business. According to the spin-off law, the second share would have to be listed on a European stock exchange. Regarding the idea of purchasing the former Sberbank and current liquidation company Sber Assets, Strobl said, “We have accepted an invitation to consider, in theory, how we can participate in an asset swap.” He stated that this was a “usual process, even if it has been criticized.” The fact that credit portfolios had already been sold to other banks, including Austrian ones, had also had positive effects for depositors.

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