LONDON — HSBC has agreed to sell its Russia business to Expobank, signing a deal shortly before Moscow said it would move to block the sale of foreign banks’ Russian businesses in retaliation for restrictions imposed on its own lenders.
“Following a strategic review, HSBC has signed an agreement to sell 100% of its participating interests in HSBC Bank (RR) LLC to Expobank JSC,” a spokesperson for the bank told Reuters by email on Thursday.
Completion of the deal would represent HSBC’s formal exit from Russia but the bank said the transaction was still subject to regulatory approvals in Russia.
Expobank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last week, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev said Russia would block the sale of foreign banks’ Russian businesses while Russian banks abroad were also unable to function normally. It is unclear whether this policy could yet scupper HSBC’s plans.
Russian divisions of other foreign banks have started looking for staff this month, Reuters reported earlier on Thursday, filling roles left vacant when employees suddenly left the country.
HSBC’s business in Russia consisted of a corporate banking business which offered a range of lending and investment banking services to domestic and multinational customers.
It employed around 200 people on the eve of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, HSBC Chief Financial Officer Ewen Stevenson said at the time. Moscow refers to its actions as its “special military operation.”
The bank did not disclose its assets in the business but Stevenson said HSBC’s Russia revenue was around $15 million, out of group revenue of $50 billion. (Reporting by Lawrence White; editing by Jason Neely)