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PARIS, April 11 (Reuters) - Societe Generale, France’s second-largest bank, has increased its stake in Russian subsidiary Rosbank, which it said was part of a long-term commitment to Russia.
The deal comes as Russia’s economy is under pressure partly as a result of sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe to protest against Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
Societe Generale said it bought 7 percent of Rosbank’s share capital from Interros group, controlled by Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin, increasing the stake to 99.4 percent.
“Societe Generale’s commitment to Russia is part of a long-term vision,” the bank said in a statement.
Russia and Eastern Europe are key planks of SocGen Chief Executive Frederic Oudea’s strategy, which aims to increase exposure to economies beyond the euro zone.
SocGen bought into Rosbank in 2006 and had built up an 82 percent stake by 2012. SocGen then bought 10 percent of Rosbank from Russia’s second-largest bank, state-controlled VTB in 2013, increasing the stake to more than 90 percent.
“They have declared that they want to be in full control of Rosbank, it is a simplification of control mechanism,” Jean-Pierre Lambert, analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, said.
SocGen had exposure of 22.4 billion euros to Russia at the end of June, according to the European Banking Authority’s (EBA) data. That equated to 15.7 billion euros in risk-weighted assets.
The bank said the transaction had a limited impact of a few basis points on the group’s Common Equity Tier 1 ratio, which stood at 10 percent at the end of 2013.
Societe Generale and Rosbank declined to comment on the cost of the deal.
SG Russia, which includes Rosbank and other insurance and financial operations, made operating income of 239 million euros ($331.91 million) last year, almost double 2012 despite a 41 percent jump in losses from bad debts.
$1 = 0.7201 Euros Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva, additional reporting by Oksana Kobzeva in Moscow and Matthias Blamont in Paris; Editing by James Regan and Jane Merriman