VTB Capital Said to Close Dubai Equity Trading as Sanctions Hit

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VTB Capital Plc, an investment banking unit of Russia’s second-biggest bank, closed its equity trading activity in Dubai, two people familiar with the matter said, as sanctions hindered its international business.

VTB cut the number of staff at its Dubai office by more than half from a peak of about 15 bankers, said one of the people, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Trading for the Middle East will now be covered from London, two of the people said. The Dubai office will continue to cover asset management and fixed income, one person said.

VTB Capital, based in London, is shrinking its Dubai operations three years after it boosted its team with hires from competitors including Credit Suisse Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG. Opening in the Dubai International Financial Centre in 2009, VTB planned to expand to across the Middle East and Africa from the business hub, offering investment banking services such as advisory, commodities, and equity capital markets.

VTB Group is among Russian firms hit by sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict restricting it from doing business with the U.S. and the European Union. VTB Capital posted a loss of $92.2 million last year compared to a profit of $4.1 million in 2013, according to a U.K. regulatory filing on May 1. VTB Group’s profit dropped 96 percent last year.

VTB Capital’s operations include offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore and Sofia, Bulgaria, according to the firm’s website.