Russian banks are tipped to expand going into next year

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This week, as a new sense of panic has emerged in the Eurozone, there have been some reassuring sentiments around the effect a more severe crisis would have on Russian banks.

Since the 2008 recession, Russian banks have structurally changed their balance sheets, sheltered themselves from external shocks and are actually expanding again.

The first vote of confidence has come from Standard & Poor’s, which – in a note cautioning reduced growth prospects for banks in the BRIC countries – said that Russian banks were still set to expand.

“Growth rebounded robustly in 2011, when system-wide loans expanded 27%. We expect credit to expand about 15% in 2012 and 2013,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Pierre Gautier.

Sergei Ignatiev, the chairman of the Bank of Russia, also told the FT that Russian banks are now owed more money from abroad and would no longer be as badly hit by a devaluation in the rouble or a sudden draught of foreign credit.

As we’ve mentioned previously, this confidence has manifested itself in a more bullish attitude to recruitment, with Russian banks seeking to capitalise on the woes of their European and US rivals by poaching some top talent.

There are still some potential dangers, of course. “We don’t live in a vacuum. We are located right next to Europe. And everything that happens in Europe certainly affects us here,” said Ignatiev.

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