Sberbank of Russia
|Industry||Banking, financial services|
|Sergey Ignatiev (chairman of the supervisory board) |
Herman Gref (CEO, chairman of the executive board)
|Products||consumer banking, corporate banking, finance and insurance, investment banking, mortgage loans, private banking, private equity, savings, Securities, asset management, wealth management, Credit cards|
|Revenue||$40 billion (2017)|
|$23.5 billion (2020)|
|$10.5 billion (2020)|
|Total assets||$498 billion (2020)|
|Total equity||$69.8 billion (2020)|
|Owner||National Wealth Fund, Government of Russia (50%+1 share)|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Sberbank CIB |
Subsidiaries in various European and post-Soviet countries
|Rating||Ba2 (Moody's), BBB- (Fitch) (2017)|
PJSC Sberbank (Russian: Сбербанк, initially a contraction of "сберегательный банк" – sberegatelnyy bank; English: "savings bank") is a state-owned Russian banking and financial services company headquartered in Moscow. The company was known as "Sberbank of Russia" until 2015. Sberbank has operations in several European and post-Soviet countries. As of 2014[update] it was the largest bank in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the third largest in Europe, ranked 33rd in the world and first in central and Eastern Europe in The Banker's Top 1000 World Banks ranking. In the spring of 2021, Forbes Russia placed Sber on the first line in the rating of the reliability of Russian banks. In the world ranking of public companies Forbes "Global 2000" Sberbank takes 51st place.
Sberbank's history goes back to Cancrin's financial reform of 1841, when a network of the first state-owned savings banks was created in Russia. By the end of the 19th century, the network reached almost 4 thousand outlets with over 2 million depositors.
Since 1905, savings bank outlets became authorised to sell insurance. After 1910, savings banks started subsidising credit cooperation institutions and extending loans to small lenders. In 1915, savings bank outlets started accepting government securities for depositing.
Soviet savings banks system
After the October Revolution of 1917, the state savings banks system continued its activity and growth under the management of the Finance Ministry of the USSR as the State Labour Savings Banks System. From 1926, the saving bank outlets were used to pay wages to blue- and white-collar workers. The savings banks were used to distribute state lottery tickets and for the placement of state bonds with the population. The savings banks introduced wider services such as money transfers.
By late 1980s, the Soviet savings bank system had almost 80 thousand branches. As part of Perestroika reforms, in 1987 the savings bank outlets are reorganised into the Savings Bank of the USSR. Within the Savings bank of the USSR, separate savings banks were created in the Soviet Republics. Following the dissolution of the USSR, the former republican savings banks became state savings banks of the newly independent post-Soviet states.
In 1991, the Savings bank of the RSFSR has been reorganised into the Joint-Stock Commercial Savings Bank of the Russian Federation (Sberbank of Russia).
Sberbank of Russia
In post-Soviet Russia, Sberbank is the largest universal bank despite growing competition from private and other state-owned commercial banks. The bank has gradually expanded its international presence.
Since 2007, Sberbank is led by former economy minister Herman Gref.
Volksbank International acquisition, 2011
In 2011, Sberbank acquired Volksbank International AG from its shareholders Österreichische Volksbanken AG, BPCE, DZ Bank and WGZ Bank. The deal included all Volksbank assets - banks in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Ukraine, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, except for Volksbank Romania. The agreed price was €585 to €645 million, depending on Volksbank business performance in 2011. Volksbank's total assets excluding Romania was €9.4 billion in June 2011. On 16 December 2013, Volksbank (Ukraine), which was a wholly owned subsidiary of Sberbank, changed its name to VS Bank (Ukrainian: ВіЕс Банк).
Denizbank acquisition, 2012
In June 2012 Sberbank bought the Turkish DenizBank for Turkish Lira 6,469 billion (about EUR 2,821 billion or US$3.504 billion) from the lender Dexia, which in 2011 was "partly nationalized by the governments of France, Belgium and Luxembourg". The deal included DenizBank subsidiaries in Turkey, Austria and Russia.
US, EU, Switzerland, and Ukraine sanctions: 2014-2017
After the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia in 2014, the Obama administration imposed targeted sanctions on 12 September 2014, through the US Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) by adding Sberbank and other entities to the Sectoral Sanctions Identifications (SSI) List. This was done in concert with 31 July 2014 addition of Sberbank to the European Union sanctions list. Sanctions consist of access restriction to the EU and US capital markets. After announcement of the sanctions, and by the end of July, Sberbank's market value had dropped the most market value among the world's major lenders plus investors moved $22 billion from Sberbank's market capitalization. Still, during the following year Sberbank's share price grew back 89%. Sberbank together with other Russian banks filed claims with the highest EU court to lift the punitive economic measures.
On 27 August 2014, Switzerland imposed sanctions on Sberbank and other Russian financial institutions.
On 17 October 2016, Ukraine imposed sanctions against Sberbank Russia, Sberbank Leasing, and their payment systems Kolibri (Hummingbird), formerly Blitz (Ukrainian: «Колибри» стара назва – «Блиц»).
On 15 March 2017, the president of Ukraine imposed sanctions on Sberbank (and other Russian state-owned banks operating in Ukraine: VTB Bank, BM Bank, Prominvestbank, and VS Bank (Ukrainian: ВіЕс Банк)) as part of its continued sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and involvement in the War in Donbass.
2017 sale of VS Bank to Tihipko
Rebranding 2020 and "ecosystem"
In 2020, Sberbank undertook a rebranding. In addition to changing the logo and legalizing the reduction “Sber”, the company announced the transformation of the bank into an “ecosystem”. Sberbank decided to become "more than a bank" and began to develop various services, mainly digital: online cinema (Okko), music (SberSound), food delivery (SberMarket), cloud storage (SberDisk), taxi (Citymobil). 
Initially, the "ecosystem" was built in partnership with the large Internet holding Mail.ru Group, for which a joint venture O2O (online-to-offline) Holding was created with a capital of about 100 billion rubles. However, in the spring of 2021, the parties decided to end cooperation due to disagreements over management methods and corporate culture.
Another component of the "ecosystem" is pharmacies. Having launched an online service, Sber Eapteka (e-drugstore), Sber soon decided to expand the business and open pharmacies in its own branches. It is assumed that purchases there will be more profitable due to targeted packaging of drugs, as well as due to the production of its own generics.
In the summer of 2021, Sberbank announced the implementation of the Sabbatical practice. Employees are allowed to take unpaid leave of up to a year - with the retention of their jobs (although this requires the consent of the immediate supervisor). It is also allowed to work remotely for three months a year.
The majority shareholder of Sberbank is the Russian National Wealth Fund managed by the Government of Russia (till 2020 the Central Bank of the Russian Federation), owning 50%+1 voting share of Sberbank's voting shares. The rest of the shares are dispersed among portfolio, private and other investors.
Sergei Gorkov joined Sberbank in November 2008 eventually becoming the head of the international operations and the senior vice chairman of the board from 10 October 2010, until 26 February 2016, when he left Sberbank to become the Chairman of Vnesheconombank (VEB). He greatly expanded Sberbank from operations in only two foreign countries, Kazakhstan (2006) and Ukraine (December 2007), to over twenty countries including Belarus (2009), Germany (2009), China (2010), India (September 2010), Switzerland (31 December 2011), Austria (acquisition of Volksbank International AG on 15 February 2012; changed name to Sberbank Europe AG on 1 November 2012, with locations in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Ukraine, and Germany), Bosnia-Herzegovina (20 February 2013), Hungary (31 December 2011; 1 November 2013, as Sberbank Hungary Ltd), Croatia (February 2012), Czech Republic (20 February 2013), Slovenia (28 January 2013), Serbia (24 December 2012), Slovakia (15 February 2013), and Turkey (acquisition of DenizBank in September 2012). Following Gorkov's departure, Svetlana Alekseyevna Sagaydak (Russian: Светлана Алексеевна Cагайдак) became the new Senior Vice Chairman of the Board.
Formerly from 2003 to 2013 the head of RIA Novosti and from 2006 to 2016 its editor in chief, Svetlana Mironyuk is a vice-president and the head of marketing and communications since 1 February 2016.
As of 2015 the bank had about 16,500 offices with over 250,000 employees. According to own estimates, the bank had over 137 million retail clients and over 1.1 million corporate clients in its 22 countries of presence.
As of August 2015 it accounted for 28.6% of aggregate banking assets, calling itself "the circulatory system of the Russian economy","key lender to the Russian economy and the biggest receiver of deposits".
Within Russia, Sberbank is structured into several regional divisions (territorial banks):
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Sberbank Europe|
|Czech Republic||Sberbank Europe|
|United States||Sberbank CIB|
|United Kingdom||Sberbank CIB|
Not returning of citizens' deposits during privatisation
Sberbank is the successor of Soviet saving banks, whose assets belonged to the state. During Russia's transition to a market economy in the 1990s, in which these assets were sold, Sberbank provided no guarantee for citizens' deposits. This resulted in a landslide depreciation, which in turn led to severe discontent among the Russian population. Since 1996, partial compensation for investors' losses has been offered. However, until 2003 this only applied to state-owned banks such as Sberbank, giving them an unfair advantage over fully private banks.
Low level of service in the early 2000s
In the early 2000s, Sberbank was repeatedly blamed for poor service. Consequently, in subsequent years, Sberbank has introduced new services and improved the quality of some of its existing ones. By the mid-2010s, the bank was reportedly among the market leaders with regards to quality of client services, such as services for retail depositors, premium services and several others.
Laundering stolen money accusations, Prevezon Holdings, and Sergey P. Poymanov
Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky accused numerous persons and entities of laundering stolen money in tax fraud in Russia. Owned by Denis Katsyv, Prevezon Holdings, represented by Natalia Vladimirovna Veselnitskaya and Louis Freeh, paid $6 million to resolve the claim without admitting any crime which subsequently led to all charges being dropped by the Justice Department in the summer of 2017.[a] In United States court, Sergey P. Poymanov sued Sberbank, several of its subsidiaries and executives, and a business rival for $750 million, claiming that a valuable gravel quarry he owned was illegally bankrupted and seized by the bank in a corporate raid in 2012. Sberbank says it took the quarry as collateral after Mr. Poymanov failed to repay a loan. Sberbank is retaining Marc Kasowitz for this court case. Poymanov was subsequently arrested by Russian police who then subjected him to harsh pretrial detention at a notoriously rough Moscow jail, Matrosskaya Tishina, which is the same jail where Magnitsky died.
Ukrainian sanctions and vandalism of Sberbank property
In April 2014, several Ukrainian officials accused Sberbank of funding the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine, including alleged terrorism. The bank denied any involvement in the financing of illegal activities on Ukrainian territory, which was later confirmed by an examination carried out by the National Bank of Ukraine.
"It is another instance of aggressive nationalism of neo-Nazi dogma that is gathering momentum in Ukraine and obviously enjoys support of official authorities of the country," the Russian foreign ministry stated.
15 March 2017, the president of Ukraine imposed sanctions on Sberbank (and other Russian state-owned banks operating in Ukraine: VTB Bank, BM Bank, Prominvestbank, and VS Bank (Ukrainian: ВіЕс Банк)) as part of its continued sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and involvement in the War in Donbass. Since then, Sberbank's Ukrainian subsidiary, VS Bank (Ukrainian: ВіЕс Банк), has been put on sale. But as of August 2017[update] it has been unsuccessfully trying to sell the asset after the National Bank of Ukraine blocked the sale of the bank due to a "failure to provide the necessary and sufficient documents to carry out checks on the investors in compliance with Ukrainian law." In 2017 Sberbank was reported to be waiting for approval from the National Bank of Ukraine to sell its Ukrainian subsidiaries. "Everything is prepared on our side. The question is whether we will be given a permission to sell or not by Ukrainian authorities," Herman Gref who is the chairman of Sberbank said on the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January 2018. On 13 December 2017, Sberbank sold another subsidiary, VS Bank (Ukrainian: ВіЕс Банк), to a Ukrainian banker, former PrivatBank chairman Serhiy Tihipko.
Troika Laundromat accusation in Lithuania
In March 2019, the Troika Laundromat was exposed as an international money laundering network involving the Troika Dialog which is an investment bank that has been merged with the Sberbank's subsidiary Sberbank CIB.
- Prevezon's attorney Louis Freeh was Director of the FBI from September 1, 1993 until June 25, 2001. In November 2017, Katsyv's company Prevezon stated that it would pay the fine using money from AFI Europe which is a subsidiary of Lev Leviev's Africa Israel Investments. In May 2018, Freeh purchased a $9.38 million home from Armen A. Manoogian in Palm Beach, Florida, near Mar-a-Lago where Freeh often attends events.
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