Top Alfa Bank Workers Defect to Rival MDM

Alfa Bank vice president Anton Belobzhesky this week moved over to MDM Bank, marking an escalation of MDM's poaching of its rival's senior staff.

The move comes on the heels of a walkout by senior employees in Alfa's press service, Andrei Nasonovsky and Gennady Porskov, who moved their offices to MDM earlier this week.

In addition, former Alfa vice president Vadim Boiko -- who until recently was working in the presidential administration -- has also been hired by the bank.

These two giants of the Russian banking sector have been locked in battle for control over Konversbank, which is in the lucrative position of holding most of the Nuclear Power Ministry's accounts. Nasonovsky and Porskov moved to MDM immediately after an extraordinary general meeting of Konversbank shareholders, when it became clear that MDM had managed to consolidate up to 60 percent of the share capital.

Ironically, just before the shareholders meeting, Alfa's press service (headed by Nasonovsky) had notified the public of court injunctions banning the meeting and of other legal obstacles in the path of MDM Bank head Andrei Melnichenko.

Both banks have denied the moves are related to the ongoing struggle for control of Konversbank and the financial flows of the atomic energy sector.

However, Georgy Abdushelishvili -- senior partner with headhunters Ward Howell, which has both banks on its books -- admits that given the current situation, MDM's behavior does look a little aggressive.

But, he said, "MDM Bank is growing actively, while Alfa Bank is the most advanced in terms of personnel and management -- so Alfa comes to mind first when the issue of hiring the best managers arises. There is nothing personal in this."

Alfa Bank vice president Alexander Gafin was defiant regarding the loss of bank personnel. "We may be feeding our competitors, but we would also like to remind them that Alfa Bank is strong because of its structure and organization, not just its personnel."