Russian banks to buy stakes in UK financial institutions
LONDON: A large Russian bank is exploring opportunities to become involved in British high street banking. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin at the end of November said that Russian banks were actively looking to buy stakes in British financial institutions.
"Our banks are interested in buying stakes in large financial companies" in Britain, Kudrin said at a press conference at the end of talks with British business secretary Vince Cable.
Britain would "welcome" Russian investors, said Cable according to press reports in Russia.
Kudrin specifically mentioned VTB, the state controlled bank of which he is chairman of the supervisory board. However BSR understands that it is another large Russian bank which is pursuing a deal to acquire the 600 branches of Lloyds TSB Bank which the European Commission has ordered be sold by 2013.
The focus is now on Russia's largest bank, state-owned Sberbank which has dramatically revamped itself since former Minister of Economics and Trade of Russia, German Gref took over as chairman in 2007 and AlfaBank, Russia's largest private bank headed by Pyotr Aven. Alfa-Bank had previously been rebuffed by British authorities when it sought to acquire a British bank two years ago.
Mr. Kudrin raised the matter with Mr. Cable, seeking assurances that there would now be no political obstacles to such a move, city insiders said "the ultimate decision does not rest with the City of London's wheelerdealers, any more than it does with Vince Cable. He is not in charge of banking regulation in the UK."
"By going public, he (Kudrin) implied the necessary green light had been given, said one British government observer. -PB News