Societe Generale decided to leave Russia shortly after the start of the war in Ukraine. His boss, Frédéric Oudéa, had however indicated internally that, “For a bank that finances the economy, which is under the supervision of the central bank, you can’t say overnight: I’m quitting. »
It is therefore “after several weeks of intensive work” that the French banking group announced on Monday, April 11, the signing of an agreement allowing it to sell all of its Rosbank subsidiary and its insurance subsidiaries in Russia to Interros Capital. It is the holding 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 since it was the previous owner of Rosbank, which it sold in blocks to Société Générale from 2006.
This operation, which should be finalized ” 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 its customers, specifies the group. In a separate statement, Interros said on Monday that “the terms of the agreement [avaient] been approved by the Government Commission on Control of Foreign Investments in the Russian Federation”.
“Significant financial consequences”
This departure is made at a high price. Societe Generale leaves more or less leaving the keys. Rosbank, one of the main Russian private banks, was dearly acquired (4 billion euros in total) and the value of the activities sold must be depreciated in the accounts of the French institution. This one, on the other hand, 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 in the amount of 500 million euros.
Societe Generale has calculated the cost of this withdrawal at 3.1 billion euros. The tricolor bank, which generated 5.6 billion euros in profits in 2021, should absorb the shock. In a message sent Monday morning to group employees, Frédéric Oudéa stressed that “this sale would have significant financial consequences in 2022, but which we will be able to manage”. The bank also wanted to confirm the payment of a dividend of 1.65 euros per share (submitted to the vote of the general meeting of shareholders on May 17) and its share buyback program announced for an amount of approximately 915 million euros. “It is not lethal for the group, but this episode accredits the opinion that something is always happening at Société Générale, since the Kerviel affair in 2008”notes a former bank executive.
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