The focus is on the state-owned Russian Sberbank and RBI’s business in Russia. Sberbank Europe, based in Vienna, was wound up in an orderly manner in the previous year and the banking license expired. However, due to sanctions against Russia, the proceeds cannot be transferred to the owner, Sberbank Russia.
And this is where the bank deal is supposed to start, according to Falter. Accordingly, RBI is working under the internal name “Project Red Bird” to take over the remaining assets of Sberbank Europe. The “Falter” therefore has documents from the RBI board meeting on Tuesday last week. They would be marked strictly confidential. It discusses in detail a “transaction structure” for the Roter Vogel project. “It is essentially a covert barter that the Raiffeisen managers around CEO Johann Strobl worked out: the state-owned Russian Sberbank receives Raiffeisen assets in Russia, and RBI receives Sberbank assets in Vienna in return,” writes the weekly magazine.
The first step, according to the board document: “Agreement between Raiffeisen Bank International and Sberbank Russia.” The paper goes on to say: “Sberbank Russia will receive the dividend claim and/or subordinated loans from RBI or, alternatively, Raiffeisen Bank Belarus.”
Two billion euros
Under which title the money (or an entire bank) is to be transferred is not yet entirely clear, but the magnitude is. The “dividend demand” refers to the profits of the Russian Raiffeisenbank Russia in 2022 in the amount of 2 billion euros. Alternatively, the entire Priorbank, the Belarusian Raiffeisen subsidiary, could be transferred to Sberbank. The balance sheet total of Priorbank: also 2 billion euros. “So this is the purchase price that RBI is willing to pay for the remaining assets of Sberbank Europe,” concludes Falter.
When asked by APA, RBI said about the “Falter” report: “The possibility of a transaction structure that you describe is a theoretical consideration. There is no agreement or other concrete steps for such an asset swap Implementation. The background to such an asset swap would be the possibility of reducing RBI’s exposure to Russia, which is known to be investigating such options. RBI naturally complies with all sanctions. Any transactions would be coordinated with the authorities in advance and only carried out if all the relevant approvals had been obtained .”
“Play with the fire”
The Green MP Nina Tomaselli sees the RBI plans rumored by “Falter” as “playing with fire”. “The fact that Raiffeisen developed this plan shows that there is no awareness of the problem at all, what that means in a world in which Russia is at war with Ukraine,” said the MP in ORF’s Ö1 “Morgenjournal”. .
In a recent parliamentary question, Tomaselli sharply criticized RBI’s plans to buy the remains of Sberbank Europe and called for an examination by the Financial Market Authority (FMA) and the Ministry of Finance. According to the Ö1-Journal, however, the Ministry of Finance said that there were no signs of circumventing the sanctions imposed by RBI or any other domestic bank. The realization of the other assets of Sberbank Europe is a normal process.
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