In cash or abroad: $8 billion withdrawn from state banks

Sberbank and VTB had the biggest losses

Analysts calculated the scale of the August currency outflow from Russian banks: the biggest state players lost $8,3bn in total during the month. Now depositors are banking this money either in cash or sending abroad. Today the situation with the currency outflow has calmed down. However, bank raids can renew when new US sanctions approach. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

State banks lose currency

Raiffeisenbank analysts found out which credit institutions had the biggest currency outflow in August. According to their calculations, mainly the biggest state players took a pasting. Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank and the institutions rehabilitated by the Banking Sector Consolidation Fund lost $8,3bn in total during the month. Natural persons withdrew $2bn, companies did $6,3bn.

At the same time, some private players, first of all, subsidiaries of foreign banks, had a currency inflow. But its scales heavily lost to the scale of losses of the state banks. ''Consequently, considerable part of the money was either cashed or sent outside Russia,'' the analysts indicate.

The corporate sector got the biggest amount of money from VTB (over $2,5bn), Sberbank and Gazprombank, the Raiffeisenbank's report suggests. Ak Bars Bank, Sovkombank, Promsvyazbank, Rosselkhozbank and Roscapital faced the outflow. Sberbank clients withdrew the biggest sum from personal accounts. Russian Regions Development Bank, which belongs to Rosneft, Raiffeisenbank, Rosbank, Alfa-Bank, Unicreditbank and some others are among those who felt the currency influx.

Currency influx from corporate accounts

Source: Russian Central Bank, Raiffeisenbank's estimates

Only Sberbank commented on the situation among all market players whom Realnoe Vremya turned to. Its press service claimed the reduction or the currency inflow at $1bn totalling $94-65bn should be considered as a ''result of the bank's balance that's managed by evolution''.

''Sberbank dynamically manages its balance and supports the diversified structure of liabilities providing high efficiency apart from reliability. In case of reduction of assets in a currency or in case of unjustified growth in market price for a certain source of liabilities, the bank optimises money borrowing by prioritising the price factor,'' Sberbank replied.

Washington against dollar

Citizens and companies withdrew their currency savings due to fears of severe sanctions of the USA that could affect dollar transactions of seven Russian state banks, Raiffeisenbank's analysts conclude. These fears aggravated after the statement of a ''VTB representative'' that in case of sanctions banks could settle with clients in other currencies.

VTB Director General Andrey Kostin told about this way of development of events. He said to Business FM in September, if needed, currency deposit liabilities could be paid in rubles at the current rate. Another option is to attract other banks that won't be imposed sanctions. According to Kostin, in this case, deposits could be transferred there in rubles and then converted into dollars. In an interview with Bloomberg, the banker noted: ''We're getting ready for the development of any situation''.

Currency outflow from personal accounts

Source: Russian Central Bank, Raiffeisenbank's estimates

Raiffeisenbank's analysts consider the chances that state bank will be imposed sanctions, which will lead to the prohibition on dollar settlements, are small. In their opinion, the European Union is unlikely to support such measures, as this would threaten Russian gas supplies. But the possibility of sanctions itself impedes the inflow of currency liquidity from Russian exporters, they note. In addition, if the Democrats win in the November election to the Congress, Washington can have a firmer position on Russia.

Fitch Ratings estimated the reserve of Russian banks' currency liquidity as comfortable. As Izvestiya wrote with a link to the rating agency's review, the volume of currencies that systemically important credit institutions have at their disposal covers at least 10% of deposits. It's enough to oppose the first wave of inflow of clients in case of sanctions.

Lull till November

According to the Central Bank, the volume of currency deposits of the population in August reduced by $1,1bn in the sector, in general. Juridical persons' currency deposits lost $2,6bn. Data for September haven't been published yet.

''Nowadays the situation with currency withdrawal has calmed down. As we see, the pressing, which was in August and September, has weakened. But I wouldn't exclude that outflows will renew when the situation with new US sanctions becomes clearer (Editor's Note: the USA promised to impose them in November). This can come to the surface by late October,'' bank analyst Aleksandr Proklov told Realnoe Vremya.

In his opinion, we shouldn't probably wait for a crisis of currency liquidity considering that the Central Bank took measures that allow to soften the blow: a currency was purchased in cash, while currency repurchase is still in reserve. Nevertheless, if sanctions affect banks' transactions, the currency outflow will go on, and the pressure will be quite perceptible.

The share of deposits in a foreign currency totals at least 22% of the volume of bank deposits of the population, the share of currency deposits of juridical persons exceeds 37%.

By Artyom Malyutin