Russian bank Sberbank to sell its Swiss subsidiary hit by sanctions

GENEVA (AP) — The Swiss financial market watchdog said on Friday that Sberbank, one of Russia’s biggest banks, was selling its Swiss subsidiary, which had come under pressure due to international sanctions against Russian interests following a the invasion of Ukraine.

Sberbank (Switzerland) AG, which focuses on commodity trade finance, was already facing liquidity problems after a first round of Western sanctions hit Russian interests earlier this year. Then, last month, the Swiss executive branch froze the bank’s assets and banned it from providing funds, resources or technical services following a new round of sanctions.

FINMA, the Swiss market authority, said in a statement on Friday that it had lifted “protective measures” – mainly to protect customers – on Sberbank so that it could be sold to M3 Group, a company diversified company that mainly holds stakes in the real estate, hospitality and healthcare sectors.

“FINMA is following the transaction closely and has temporarily lifted its protective measures at Sberbank (Switzerland) AG so that the transaction can be completed,” it said in a statement. “This is also done with the consent of the sanctioning authorities.”

FINMA said the “resized” bank will now operate under a new name, TradeXBank.

Groupe M3 confirmed the sale in a press release. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

In an interview with the Swiss newspaper Le Temps published on Friday, the president of the M3 Group, Abdallah Chatila, said he saw a “good opportunity” when the opportunity to buy the Swiss subsidiary of Sberbank presented itself in May thanks to a of his contacts.

Chatila, who made the headlines after buying Nazi memorabilia at auction to keep them out of the hands of neo-Nazis, said authorities, including the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which oversees US sanctions, had given their “fire green” to the agreement. The Treasury Department declined to comment.

He reportedly said that Sberbank Switzerland itself was not targeted by the sanctions. He said he was generating about 3-4 billion Swiss francs in revenue a year before the sanctions, but M3 Group had been forced to sell 1.5 billion francs of assets under management to clients who were after them. as part of the purchase.

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