BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole withdraw from Russia

BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole will end all of their business in Russia, becoming the latest international banks to cut ties with corporate clients in the country following the invasion of Ukraine.

BNP, which has said it will stop new financial transactions, said on Tuesday it would stop processing other types of transactions. The French peer, Crédit Agricole, which similarly only has investment banking operations in Russia, later said it would cease all commercial activities there as well.

The lenders said they are currently notifying Russian customers.

Their decision highlights the banks’ contrasting approach to the crisis, with some grappling with how to continue running their local operations in Russia and others leaving. .

Other Wall Street and European investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank, have said they will leave, though they have not said what this will involve.

BNP, the eurozone’s largest bank, declined to comment on what would happen to its roughly 500 employees in Russia. Crédit Agricole has 170 employees in the country. Several companies, including automakers that have frozen production and retailers that have closed stores, have resumed paying local employees after suspending their Russian operations.

In many cases, people who are mainly foreigners have repatriated them or transferred them to other countries.

France’s Société Générale is one of the foreign banks with the most exposure to Russia through its retail bank Rosbank, with 12,000 employees. It did not elaborate on its long-term plans but has remained in business so far and warned of extreme scenarios such as the potential for foreclosure.

Other banks with Russian subsidiaries, such as Italy’s UniCredit and Austria’s Raiffeisen, Yes said they were looking at exits but, with few potential buyers for their business, options include downsizing in value.

There has been increasing pressure on companies to cut ties with Russia since the war began and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for foreign businesses withdraw.

BNP operates a retail bank in Ukraine, Ukrsibbank, and previously disclosed 3 billion euros in Ukraine and Russia, which represents 0.16% of the bank’s total funds. Crédit Agricole said the two countries accounted for 0.45% of total trade commitments.

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