Nomura winding down Russian office again

By Andrei Skvarsky.

Japan’s Nomura is slashing its investment business in Russia, joining the string of international banks that have been partially or completely winding up their activities in the country.

Opened in 2008, Nomura’s Russian investment subsidiary began to curtail its business last year and has been stricken by staff exodus since spring, with just a handful of employees, mostly equity analysts, remaining there today, according to Russian business daily Vedomosti.

This throws one more drop of cold water on the Kremlin’s plan to turn Moscow into an international financial centre.

However, Nomura denies plans to wrap up all its investment business in Russia, claiming it still sees good prospects for itself in a market dominated by state-controlled lenders Sberbank and VTB.

Maxim Seltzer quit as head of Nomura’s Russian operation a little over a year ago and was never replaced. Other depatures last year included Yevhen Zenchenko and Vadim Bondarev.

After the 1998 default, Nomura closed its offices in Russia after losing about $600 million.

Meanwhile, British bank Barclays is selling its Russian retail and commercial banking business to Kazcommertzbank, Kazakhstan’s biggest lender.

In June news came that GE Money Bank, a banking arm of General Electric, and Swedish lender Svenska Handelsbanken were pulling out of Russia.

This spring HSBC said it was shutting its Russian retail business after allocating $200m for building it out just a few years ago.

Spanish bank Santander sold its Russian retail business to the Orient Express bank in December 2010. France’s BNP Paribas is going to sell its Russian retail subsidiary Cetelem to Sberbank. The Netherlands’ Rabobank has also closed its retail business in Russia.