By Ben Aris of bne

There was high drama at Sberbank‘s AGM on Friday when celebrity economist Sergei Guriev was voted back on the board of the big Russian state-controlled bank despite having fled the country at the weekend in fear of arrest.

Guriev said earlier that he had withdrawn his name from the list of candidates, but the head of Sberbank’s legal department told journalists ahead of the vote that it was too late the remove Guriev’s name from the ballot. The result is an embarrassment for the authorities even if Guriev doesn’t return to Russia any time soon. Read more

Sberbank is moving from finance to operations in Russia’s booming air travel market.

The bank has placed an order with US aerospace giant Boeing for a dozen passenger jets. The deal – worth $1bn at current catalogue prices – will see Russia’s biggest lender supply aircraft to Transaero under its first ever operational leasing agreement in the industry. Read more

After buying a bank in Turkey last year it was a logical step for Sberbank to start borrowing in the Turkish currency. The Russian state savings bank raised 550m Turkish lira ($304m) in an inaugural lira-denominated eurobond this week and said it would use the proceeds to support the operations of its Denizbank Turkish subsidiary.

Sberbank placed the five year “eurolira” bond at 7.3 per cent, slightly below the 7.5 per cent price guidance for the issue that was executed on Monday after a one-day roadshow. Read more

The Russian stock market marked the news of the success of Sberbank’s $5bn offering with a 1.9 per cent drop in the dollar-denominated RTS index, the third daily decline in a row. The big bank fell too, losing around 1 per cent by late afternoon Moscow time.

But that was only to be expected given the size of the $5.1bn offering and volatile world markets. In the long run the issue looks positive for Sberbank, positive for the market and positive for the Russian economy. Read more

Moscow has finally got away a big chunk of its much-discussed and oft-delayed privatisation programme, with the sale on Monday of a 7.58 per cent stake in Sberbank, the country’s largest bank.

Sberbank plunged 2.6 per cent as the investment bankers swung into action and later recovered to trade 1.9 per cent down as investors digested the $5.4bn share offering. Read more

Even as Sweden’s Handelsbanken this week became the latest foreign bank to join the herd leaving Russia due to tough market conditions and the predominance of state banks, another foreign bank looked to have found a way of staying in the market.

France’s BNP Paribas  is putting Cetelem, its point-of-sale bank in Russia, into a joint venture with Sberbank, the country’s number one bank.  The French bank is giving up control in return for riding on Sberbank’s broad coattails. Read more

Russia’s 129 Olympic medallists are being showered with gifts. The most exciting is probably a luxury Audi, courtesy of a group of wealthy businessmen. The most useful? The chance of a job at Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank. Read more

Alexei Navalny, Russian democratic protest leader May 2012You’d think that Alexei Navalny, would be too busy with politics to do anything else at the moment. But the Russian opposition activist has jumped on the recovery in retail lending with plans to team up with a local bank to launch a debit card to help support his anti-corruption fund.

As Vedomosti, the FT’s sister paper reported on Tuesday, it will be a brave bank that risks associating with Navalny who is famous for annoying the authorities with blogs about alleged frauds at state companies etc. But the debit card move shows that the activist has a sharp nose for business as well as a barbed tongue. Read more

What’s on the mind of billionaire Oleg Deripaska, the controlling shareholder in Rusal, the world’s biggest aluminium company? At a meeting with journalists on Friday, he talked about the outlook for the alumnium industry (cautious), the planned toughening of Russia’s enviromental rules (a game-changer), his dispute with business partner Viktor Vekselberg (almost no comment) and the long-running row at Norilsk Nickel (hostilities suspended).

But what excited Deripaska most were Russian lending rates. At 9 per cent a year and more, they are far too high, he says. And the answer is: a change in the “ridiculous” management team at the central bank. Read more

By Sergei Kuznetsov of business new europe

Sberbank, the Russian banking giant, is preparing to expand into the Baltic states, bne can reveal. In the first step, BPS-Sberbank, its Belarus operation, will open a subsidiary in Latvia. Read more

Sberbank’s annual results published on Wednesday did nothing to damage the Russian government’s prospects of selling a $6bn chunk of equity later this year.

But they won’t have been of much help either. Fourth-quarter net income of Rs60.1bn came in slightly below expectations and were down 16.5 per cent on the same period a year earlier. However, on a dull day, the stock beat the market, falling by only 1.7 per cent against 1.8 per cent in the Micex. Read more

With Russia’s presidential election now done and dusted, a fresh window is opening for Russian initial public offerings – and Sberbank is once again planning a secondary share sale worth around $6bn.

The long-awaited second public offering (SPO),  the crown jewel of the Russian government’s privatisation programme, may now go ahead as soon as mid-April. Read more