Finance & Capital Market

Top Russian bank to open office in Abu Dhabi

Sberbank, the largest commercial bank in Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, is on course to opening an office in Abu Dhabi by the end of this year, according to a top executive.
Sberbank is looking to promote investment activity in both conventional and Islamic finance through cooperation with funds, financial institutions and other bodies in the Middle East, Behnam Gurban-Zada, Head of Islamic banking at Sberbank, said in a statement to the state news agency Wam.
In late September, the state-owned bank signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi sovereign investor Mubadala Investment Company to "tap the potential of mutually beneficial opportunities ".
The agreement covers cooperation in areas including co-investments, debt and equity financing, long-term financing of Mubadala projects in Russia and other territories.
It also includes potential cooperation in a wide range of areas that would embrace Islamic finance, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, life sciences, venture capital, telemedicine and education.
Islamic finance will be the backbone of Sberbank business activity in the region. The Islamic window within Sber Investment Middle East, SIME, will be a single product development centre and the office for Sber’s Shariah-compliant finance business.
At initial stage the bank will be offering advising and consultancy in deals structuring and products development but Sberbank will also consider financing and direct investments and acquisitions."
Sber is a global company with diversified activities. It aims at markets with potential business activities and a demand for Islamic financing.
"Our focus will be on corporate business, export-import financing, fintech, M&A deals, direct investments and sukuk with digitalisation also being a top priority," noted Gurban-Zada. 
"We are planning to present companies from the ecosystem of Sber in the region, our concept is creating a whole ecosystem of digital services. It is is much broader and more client-oriented than just fintech," he stated.
Sber has been developing Islamic financing since 2016. To date, the bank has structured seven Shariah-compliant deals totalling $300 million. 
Among the most notable was the trade finance deal in August of this year that involved the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, a member of the Islamic Development Bank Group.