15 Sep 2021 16:44

CBR seeing interest in banking sector from external investors for first time in recent years

SOCHI. Sept 15 (Interfax) - The Central Bank of Russia does not believe in a potential oligopoly on the banking market and, on the contrary, has been seeing interest in the sector from external investors for the first time in recent years, First Deputy CBR Governor Sergei Shvetsov said.

Shvetsov said he did not believe in the theory that the Russian banking sector would reduce to a handful of players in the future. The regulator's strategy aims for not only the big players to have a place in the sun and for small and medium-sized lending institutions to be able to find their niche, he said.

"We are seeing interest from external investors in entering the banking market for the first time in recent years: many technology companies, and not only them, so I wouldn't say in no uncertain terms that the verdict has been passed and there's no other alternative," Shvetsov said during a panel discussion of the International Banking Forum, organized by the Association of Banks of Russia.

He later clarified to journalists that he had meant big tech firms that conduct operating activity in Russia but whose parent companies are registered abroad.

"Ozon and Wildberries have acquired banks... But what are foreigners, can you tell me? Ninety percent of the investors in Ozon's free float are foreigners," Shvetsov said.

Main owner and CEO of Russia's biggest online retailer Wildberries Tatyana Bakalchuk purchased Standard-Credit Bank in February 2021, Ozon acquired Oney Bank in May, and Yandex bought Acropol Bank in July.