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ECB’s Nouy Has No Worries Over European Banks in Ukraine

Daniele Nouy, head of the European Central Bank’s new supervisory board, said she has “no worries” about Europe’s banks operating in Ukraine.

“The amounts involved are very moderate,” Nouy, 63, said in an interview with BFM Business television today. Nouy, who headed the French banking regulator for a decade, was appointed in December to lead the new Frankfurt-based watchdog charged with overseeing the euro-area’s 130 largest lenders.

Global stock indexes fell and the ruble dropped to an all-time low as Russia’s threat to invade Ukraine prompted an emerging-market sell-off. Raiffeisen Bank International AG, which is seeking to sell its Ukrainian unit, and Societe Generale SA, the foreign bank with the largest branch network in Russia, led declines among European banks as tensions between Ukraine and Russia escalated.

Asked about Societe Generale’s exposure to Russia, Nouy said “there is no reason to be particularly worried.” Her remarks referred to the overall situation of European banks, rather than a specific institution, an ECB spokeswoman said.

Societe Generale, France’s second-largest bank by market value, agreed to increase its controlling stake in Moscow-based OAO Rosbank last year by buying VTB Group’s 10 percent stake. Societe Generale’s international retail-banking business at the end of 2013 had 13.5 billion euros ($18.6 billion) of loans and 8.5 billion euros of deposits in Russia.

UniCredit, BNP

Raiffeisen, based in Vienna, is the biggest foreign bank in Ukraine with 43.5 billion hryvnia ($4.2 billion) in assets at its local unit, Raiffeisen Bank Aval. That makes it the fifth-largest lender in the country, according to Ukraine central bank data at the end of 2013. Milan-based UniCredit SpA’s local unit had 43 billion hryvnia in assets, and BNP Paribas SA’s UkrSibbank had 24.1 billion hryvnia, according to the data. Russia’s OAO Sberbank had 35.1 billion hryvnia of assets, and VTB had 25.3 billion hryvnia, the data show.

Societe Generale has “negligible” exposure in Ukraine, where it employs about 80 people at its car-fleet management and equipment financing units, it said today.

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