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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

HSBC Gets Retail License

Europe's biggest bank, HSBC, has received a license for its Russian subsidiary allowing it to take deposits from retail clients, the Central Bank said Monday.

HSBC already has a growing corporate- and investment-banking business in the country and an office here, but obtaining the license is a key step toward becoming the first British lender to build a retail presence in Russia. After a decade building up its business in Latin America, the world's third-largest bank has more recently turned its attention to fast-growing banking markets in Eastern Europe and Russia, where HSBC, like its British peers, has lagged behind continental European rivals.

Top non-Russian lenders in Russia currently include Societe Generale, which has a multistage deal to acquire control of top-10 bank Rosbank by the end of next year, Austria's Raiffeisen International and Bank Austria Creditanstalt, the East European arm of Italy's UniCredit.

In an interview this year, HSBC chairman Stephen Green said the retail banking market in Russia was "crying out for good quality service from international competitors." But he said HSBC's growth there would likely be organic, a comment that would indicate that the bank is not immediately seeking any Russian bank assets. Career banker Chris Barry, a former HSBC executive in Saudi Arabia, was put in charge of HSBC's push into the Russian retail sector last September.

Reuters, MT