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Russia, Ukraine Not The Best Places To Be In Banking Right Now

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And, unfortunately for Raiffeisen International, it’s not a great time (read: not possible) to get out , either.

Foreign banks with operations in Russia or Ukraine, including Austria's Raiffeisen International AG , Italy's UniCredit SpA and France'sSociété Générale SA, also got clobbered. Raiffeisen, which has 12.1% of its assets in Russia and 3.4% in Ukraine, saw its shares fall about 8%. Shares of UniCredit and Société Générale, which owns one of Russia's largest retail and corporate banks, both fell about 5%.

Raiffeisen said in a statement Monday that it is temporarily halting its planned sale of its Ukrainian unit, Bank Alva. Raiffeisen said it has received multiple offers for the business. The process "is on hold for now, however, due to the situation in Ukraine."

UniCredit's unit in Ukraine announced on its website that it was limiting cash withdrawals from its ATMs to 1,500 hryvnia, or about $150, per 24 hours. The bank said it was taking the step "in order to provide all the clients with an access to cash money" and that the limits would be removed "in the nearest time with the normalization of the situation."

On the bright side, European banks have discovered a new benefit of the financial crisis.

Ukraine's impact on western European banks will be more limited than it would have been in the past, as direct cross-border exposures are less than half their level in 2008, said Elena Romanova, an analyst with Raiffeisen International. Prior to the financial crisis, European banks were chasing market share in what they perceived to be one of the continent's last high-growth markets. However, those banks now hold less than 20% of Ukrainian bank assets.

Ukraine Troubles Europe’s Banks [WSJ]


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