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Russia froze Deutsche Bank, UniCredit assets in Gazprom JV case

Tan KW
Publish date: Sat, 18 May 2024, 07:26 PM
Tan KW
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A Russian court has frozen local assets of Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG and Italy’s UniCredit SpA under lawsuits totalling over €1 billion filed by a Gazprom PJSC venture.

The Arbitration Court of the St Petersburg and Leningrad region arrested assets of Munich-registered UniCredit Bank AG and Moscow-based UniCredit Bank AO as part of the suit from RusKhimAlians, according to court documents dated May 16. Stakes in two other Russia-based related companies were frozen, along with real estate and cash in bank accounts.

The court also froze securities owned by Deutsche Bank in Russia as well as real estate and funds at all bank accounts, according to the documents.

“UniCredit has been made aware of the filing with Russian Court in relation to the RusKhimAlyans V UC GmbH court case to which AO UC Bank has been joined,” the bank said in an emailed statement on Friday. “Only assets commensurate with the case would be in scope of the interim measure and not to UC AO Bank as a whole. The rest of the details we are currently reviewing in detail.”

The joint enterprise between Russia’s state-run natural gas giant and smaller producer Rusgazdobycha launched more than US$1 billion in legal claims against European banks that backed a key natural gas project caught up in sanctions against Russia.

Milan-based UniCredit, which operates in Russia through a subsidiary with some 3,100 employees and more than 50 branches, says it has set aside more than €800 million against defaults in Russia since 2022 and has cut back its loan portfolio by two-thirds. Chief executive officer Andrea Orcel said in May that the lender will continue to do what it can in the country and that it’s in compliance with sanctions, but that a final exit will be difficult to execute.

Hearings into the Gazprom venture’s claim against UniCredit have been suspended because the parties have another trial in the UK, according to the Russian court.

The Italian Foreign Ministry and the prime minister’s office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani last month condemned Moscow’s seizure of the Russia-based assets belonging to another Italian company, heating-systems maker Ariston Thermo Group.


  - Bloomberg


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