UniCredit, Citi consider swapping assets with Russian institutions – FT

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FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Unicredit logo

(Reuters) – UniCredit SpA and Citigroup are exploring asset swaps with Russian financial institutions as western banks trying to avoid heavy writedowns as they exit Russia, the Financial Times said on Sunday.

UniCredit has received several offers from Russian financial institutions to buy its local subsidiary since its chief executive, Andrea Orcel, said in March it was considering pulling out of the country, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed people familiar with matter.

Citigroup is the most internationally diversified of big banks based in the United States. It provides trade finance to corporations and wealth management to billionaires around the world.

UniCredit received one offer from Interros group, the investment business owned by Vladimir Potanin, one of Russia’s richest men and an oligarch who has not been sanctioned by the United States, Britain or the European Union, but the Italian bank rejected the offer, the FT said.

Citi declined to comment. UniCredit and Interros did not immediately responded to Reuters requests for comment.

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In March, UniCredit detailed its exposure to Russia, flagging a 7.4 billion euro loss in a worst case. It confirmed its cash dividends and plans for a share buyback, making the latter contingent on a key capital threshold.

Citi Chief executive Jane Fraser said last year the bank would divest its Russia consumer business along with a dozen other consumer businesses in Asia and EMEA markets that she said were too small to keep. Citi has since found buyers for many of those businesses.

(Reporting by Jaiveer Singh Shekhawat in Bengaluru; editing by William Mallard)

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