Russian lender Sberbank closes Dublin office due to ‘security concerns’ for staff

Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, is closing its Dublin business and most of its European operations due to “a number of security issues affecting its employees and offices”.

B Leasing Ireland, a subsidiary of Sberbank, was established in 2010 in Ireland to work primarily in the aircraft leasing business and has an office in a business park in Maynooth, Co Kildare. The operation is run by Katerina Ryzhenkova and is said to have around six employees. Ms Ryzhenkova did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

“Given the current situation, Sberbank has taken the decision to withdraw from the European market,” the bank said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.. “The group’s subsidiary banks have faced an exceptional outflow of funds and a number of security issues relating to its employees and offices.”

Sberbank, which controls 46% of all Russian deposits and a third of all loans, has been under tough EU and US sanctions since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine last week.

The lender operated in the UK, Germany, Austria, Croatia and Hungary, among others, and had European assets worth €13 billion at the end of 2020. Its London-listed shares collapsed as much as 95% in early trading yesterday after the news.

His little-known leasing company, SB Leasing Ireland, has quietly increased its business in recent years after suffering losses. Assets recently jumped to more than $1 billion as the company secured new leases.

Sberbank isn’t the only Russian player in town. GTLK Europe, the Kremlin’s dedicated rental operation, has around 20 staff in its offices just off St Stephen’s Green. The company manages a portfolio of air and sea vehicles worth more than $1.5 billion.

Russian banks have been drawn to Ireland because of its status as the birthplace of aircraft leasing and its recognition as the world’s leading location in the sector.

the Irish Independent revealed exclusively on February 27 that Irish leasing companies are set to terminate all leasing contracts with Russian aircraft in the coming days as the next phase of sanctions increases pressure on the Kremlin after its invasion of Ukraine.

Most commercial aircraft in Russia are leased, so if requests are honored, the move has the potential to massively disrupt travel to and from Russia as well as internally.

Pobeda, a low-cost airline owned by Aeroflot, has been ordered to return 10 Boeing 737 jets to Ireland, according to aircraft leasing manager Elena Selivanova.

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