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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ex-Menatep Banks Ready to Spend

The financial wing of the once-mighty Group Menatep is now free and clear of Yukos' main shareholder and is ready to expand -- after a name change.

Both the investment and retail arms of Menatep's shrinking empire -- Trust and Bank Menatep St. Petersburg -- now belong to the management, Ilya Yurov, the chairman of both banks, said Wednesday.

Completing the financial obligations of the $100 million-plus management buyout will take a few more months, but legally the two banks no longer have anything to do with Group Menatep, Yurov said.

After "sitting on a pile of cash" as the legal assault on Yukos and Group Menatep unfolded, scaring clients away, Trust is now ready to expand into retail through Bank Menatep St. Petersburg, which is being rebranded as National Trust Bank, he said.

"The sheer fact that we are still sitting here and talking about the future speaks for itself."

Yurov acknowledged that the financial performance of both banks in 2004 has been the worst in years, mainly because they lost Yukos as a client.

Trust in particular suffered because the bank, which has been repeatedly raided by officials throughout the 18-month legal assault on Yukos, decided not to risk its cash when its own survival was in doubt.

"We were literally sitting on a pile of cash, that's all we did," Yurov said.

Menatep St. Petersburg, meanwhile, took a beating during the so-called mini banking crisis that shook the financial sector this summer.

But, according to Yurov, the hard times are over.

"In a country where out of 100 million economically active people only 6 million bank, the opportunities for growth are huge," he said.

"As for changing the name, surely Menatep is a very well-known brand, by now particularly. ... I'm sure it cannot be used successfully for at least a few years."

The main offices of both banks will continue to be located in the former headquarters of Yukos and Menatep on the corner of Prospekt Sakharova and the Garden Ring.