Russian central bank steps in to rescue Asian-Pacific Bank

MOSCOW, April 26 (Reuters) - Russia’s central bank said on Thursday it would bail out Asian-Pacific Bank and revoke the licences of two other banks.

Russian banks’ financial health is on the central bank’s radar as its proceeds with a clean-up programme. It already had to take over three major private lenders, Otkritie, B&N Bank and Promsvyazbank (PSB), in the space of a few months in 2017.

The central bank said it decided to become an investor of Asian-Pacific Bank, which ranks at number 60 in Russia by assets, to stabilise the bank’s operations and to increase its financial strength. Asia-Pacific has branches mostly in eastern Russia.

“The Bank of Russia envisages providing funds to the bank to support liquidity,” the central bank said on its website, referring to Asian-Pacific Bank.

The central bank said it would use funds of the Banking Sector Consolidation Fund, the fund that has been used to rescue banks in 2017, to support Asian-Pacific Bank, which had 120 billion roubles ($1.93 billion) in assets as of April 1.

Russian banks that are have not been rescued by the central bank have been losing their licences. Over the past year, the central bank has revoked several dozens of banking licences, reducing the number of banks in Russia towards 500 from more than 1,000 a few years ago.

The central bank said on Thursday it decided to revoke licences of Novy Kreditny Soyuz bank, Russia’s number 437 bank by assets, and Elbin Bank, the country’s number 483 by assets.

$1 = 62.1469 roubles Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh. Editing by Jane Merriman