Société Générale ceases its activities in Russia

Societe Generale decided to leave Russia shortly after the start of the war in Ukraine. However, his boss, Frédéric Oudéa, had indicated internally that, “For a bank that finances the economy, that is under the supervision of the central bank, you cannot say overnight: I resign. »

it is then “after several weeks of intense work” that the French banking group announced on Monday, April 11, the signing of an agreement that allows it to sell all of its subsidiary Rosbank and its insurance subsidiaries in Russia to Interros Capital. It is the holding company of the oligarch Vladimir Potanin, one of the richest men in Russia and close to Vladimir Putin, who controls the mining giant Nornickel. Interros Capital knows the bank well as it was the previous owner of Rosbank, which it sold in blocks to Société Générale starting in 2006.

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This operation, which should be completed “In the next weeks”, will allow the French bank to withdraw “in an effective and orderly manner from Russia, ensuring continuity” to its 12,000 employees and to its clients, specifies the group. In a separate statement, Interros said on Monday that “the terms of the agreement [avaient] been approved by the Government Commission for Control of Foreign Investments in the Russian Federation”.

“Significant financial consequences”

This output is done at a high price. Société Générale leaves more or less leaving the keys. Rosbank, one of the main Russian private banks, was acquired very expensively (4 billion euros in total) and the value of the activities sold must be written off in the accounts of the French institution. Instead, he will receive ” a deposit “ of the buyer, Interros Capital, which will include the repayment of a debt granted by Societe Generale to its Russian subsidiary for an amount of 500 million euros.

Societe Generale has calculated the cost of this withdrawal at 3,100 million euros. The tricolor bank, which generated 5.6 billion euros in profits in 2021, should absorb the shock. In a message sent on Monday morning to the group’s employees, Frédéric Oudéa underlined that “This sale would have important economic consequences in 2022, but we will know how to manage it”. The bank has also wanted to confirm the payment of a dividend of 1.65 euros per share (submitted to a vote at the general meeting of shareholders on May 17) and has announced its share repurchase program for an approximate amount of 915 million euros. euros. “Not lethal to the group, but this episode lends credence to the view that there is always something going on at Société Générale, ever since the Kerviel affair in 2008”notes a former bank executive.

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