VIENNA (Reuters) -The European arm of Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, has been closed by order of the European Central Bank, which had warned it faced failure due to a run on deposits after Russia invaded Ukraine, Austria’s Financial Market Authority said.
The European Central Bank’s Single Resolution Board (SRB) determined earlier this week that Sberbank Europe, which is based in Vienna, was failing or likely to fail. That prompted Austria’s FMA on Monday to impose a moratorium on the bank’s activities.
The FMA’s announcement late on Tuesday that it was ordering the bank to close came just over an hour before that moratorium was due to expire.
“By order of the European Central Bank (ECB), the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) issued a decision today banning the licensed credit institution ‘Sberbank Europe AG’ … from continuing business operations in their entirety with immediate effect,” the FMA said in a statement at 10:45 p.m. (2145 GMT).
The European Union and United States have responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with a battery of sanctions including moving to ban big Russian banks from SWIFT, the main global payments system.
As a result, Sberbank Europe said on Monday that several of its banks had “experienced a significant outflow of customer deposits within a very short period of time”.
The SRB ordered the moratorium so that it could determine whether the case should be handled under European bank resolution rules and decided it should not, the FMA said.
The FMA said it had appointed an administrator who is tasked with determining whether and when the criteria of an insolvency are met. In the meantime, the closure triggers Austria’s deposit guarantee scheme, which covers deposits up to 100,000 euros ($111,240) per customer, the FMA said.
Separately, it was announced that two of Sberbank Europe’s units in the Balkans would be taken over.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Twitter that Hrvatska Postanska Bank would take over Sberbank in Croatia, while Slovenia’s central bank said in a statement that the country’s largest banking group NLB would take on Sberbank’s Slovenian business.
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(Reporting by Francois Murphy;Additional reporting by Kirsten Donovan in London, Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo. Editing by Leslie Adler, Kirsten Donovan)