While private banks have been on the defensive since the regulator began a purge in which over 300 firms have lost their licences, some tycoons have stepped up to keep their institutions afloat. The chief executive of billionaire Mikhail Gutseriev’s Safmar Group said its B&N Bank may be recapitalised by 25 billion rubles ($254 million) this year. In 2004, the owners of Alfa-Bank provided $800 million as customers pulled funds, stemming the panic.
Otkritie Holding, which controls the bank, has a diverse ownership structure. Two Lukoil PJSC billionaires, Vagit Alekperov and Leonid Fedun, precious metals magnate Alexander Nesis and entrepreneur Alexander Mamut own a combined 36 per cent of the group.
Otkritie may be transferred to a central bank-controlled fund created to bail out failing lenders, although a final decision hasn’t been made, Vedomosti reported, citing several unidentified people in the industry. Its debt tumbled into distressed territory after the publication on Friday, with subordinated bonds due in April 2019 slumping 41.72 cents on the dollar to 50.24 cents.
Private lenders have already been closing in droves amid a cull by the central bank that’s yanked one in three licenses since 2014. Their state-controlled rivals, with access to cheap funding and a government backstop, have been the biggest winners from the cleanup as many owners balk at resuscitating their under-capitalised institutions.
What Otkritie’s billionaire owners have in common is that they became shareholders as they sought to reduce their exposure to the banking business. Alekperov and Fedun received their 20 percent, held by their US-sanctioned IFD Kapital, after Otkritie agreed to take over a bank founded by Lukoil in 2013.