Foreign Banks Eager to Make Russia Entry

Foreign banks are eager to enter Russia, undeterred by turbulence on global financial markets, a Central Bank official said Thursday.

"I don't see that the turbulence on global financial markets would influence the desire to come to the Russian market," Mikhail Sukhov, head of the Central Bank's licensing department, told reporters during a break in a meeting today with bankers in Prokhorovo, near Moscow. "I haven't heard of any banks recalling their petitions."

The Central Bank is now reviewing "several" petitions by foreign banks seeking to open businesses in the country, Sukhov said.

HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, said Wednesday that it planned to invest $200 million to expand in the country and appointed a new local CEO. Barclays, Britain's third-biggest bank, bought Expobank for $745 million last week.

There are no grounds to fear a "crisis" in Russia's banking industry in the face of global liquidity problems, Alexei Simanovsky, head of the Central Bank's regulation and oversight department, said in a speech at Prokhorovo. "There are no objective reasons for it."

Net capital outflow may have reached $15 billion to $20 billion in the first two months of the year, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Tuesday, Interfax reported.