Sunday, 31 July 2022

Hrvatska Postanska Banka's Organic Growth Sees it Pushed Forward on Market

July the 3st, 2022 - Hrvatska Postanska Banka has been pushed forward significantly on the market owing to its organic growth and the excellent business being done, not to mention a new acquisition.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, during the first six months of 2022, Hrvatska Postanska Banka achieved strong growth in terms of the wider HPB Group's assets and the acquisition of Nova Hrvatska Banka (New Croatian Bank), which is now successfully operating. All of the above has significantly strengthened its overall market position.

After a record 2021, a ten digit net profit of 1.066 billion kuna was realised at a consolidated level as a result of income due to acquisition activities and profit creation at the bank's level. A significant increase in property of 7.7 billion kuna indicates a strong step towards the entry of HPB into the top five banks per total assets on the entire Croatian market.

The main factors of the record positive results of the wider Hrvatska Postanska Banka Group in the first six months of 2022, in addition to the effects of acquisition activities, were the profits made from business even in these dire circumstances of growing inflation and the cost of adjusting business for the introduction of the euro in 2023. Hrvatska Postanska Banka successfully annulled the unfavourable effects of the drop in the price of bonds caused by the announcement of a change in monetary policy to restrain inflation and continued to implement the multitude of strategic projects of the HPB Group.

Back on March the 1st, 2022, the Hrvatska Postanska Banka took over Sberbank d.d., now called Nova Hrvatska Banka, which enabled it to stabilise its business, in that it also secured the preservation of its property and the property of its clients.

A significant increase in the Hrvatska Postanska Banka deposit and the stabilisation of Nova Hrvatska Banka's business, after them having taken it over, contributed to a much more favourable liquidity position and the strengthening of the potential to continue the realisation of a planned market share. The complementary and quality credit portfolio of Nova Hrvatska Banka has also further strengthened the stable and growing credit portfolio of HPB in almost all possible segments.

In addition to the record low level of the stake in unchanging loans, the activities of the diversification and increase in the quality of the bank's card products are reflected in the growth of total revenue from 7.7% fees that have mitigated the drop of net interest income of 6.0% (unconsoilidated) provided by a competent environment.

Thanks to cooperation with a strategic partner, Croatian Post (Hrvatska posta), Hrvatska Postanska Banka has continued to increase the availability of its financial services to different segments of clients even in the smallest and most remote rural locations that have a post office available.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Russian Fortenova Co-Ownership Ending Following Ukraine Invasion

March the 21st, 2022 - Russian Fortenova co-ownership will be coming to an end following that country's unjustified invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. The Russian Fortenova co-ownership is otherwise through it's largest commercial bank, Sberbank.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Russia's largest commercial bank, Sberbank, will soon cease to be a co-owner of Croatia's Fortenova Group (former Agrokor). Sberbank's 44 percent Russian Fortenova co-ownership stake will apparently be taken over by the Indotek group, backed by American-Hungarian capital, Vecernji list writes.

The majority owner of the Indotek group is Daniel Jellinek, who, at least according to Forbes magazine, ranks ninth on the list of the richest Hungarians in the world. According to Vecernji list, the in-depth recording process to make room for the business move has begun, and insiders expect the transaction to be concluded within a few weeks.

From the Croatian economic point of view, it is important that Indotek is, in both the business and capital sense, very well connected with the American business conglomerate Bohemian Group, which is owned by the powerful and rich American Stryker family.

Until recently, the Bohemian Group was the second largest single owner of Indotek after Jellinek, with an ownership share of 33 percent, and today it still participates with its capital in various Indotek projects. The Indotek Group is one of the leading investment management companies in all of Central and Eastern Europe.

The main activity of the group is the acquisition of real estate/property and corporate receivables, and their investment portfolio makes it one of the most important players in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.

One of the long-term benefits of this transaction which will end Russian Fortenova co-ownership, if realised, stems from the fact that with the arrival of Jellinek as a potential operational partner of Fortenova in the joint acquisition of international brands and opening new markets in the future, the French retail giant Auchan is mentioned, with which Indotek is negotiating strategic cooperation and ownership alliances.

For more, make sure to check out our business section.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Resolution Prevents Negative Scenario, Sberbank Croatia Continues Operating Normally

ZAGREB, 3 March 2022 - The head of the Croatian Deposit Insurance Agency (HAOD), Marija Hrebac, said on Thursday that the resolution of Sberbank Croatia had prevented a negative scenario, that the bank had been saved and that it is continuing to operate normally. 

Due to a rapid deterioration of liquidity, the European Central Bank announced on Monday that Sberbank Croatia "is failing or likely to fail" and notified the Single Resolution Board (SRB), the central resolution authority within the Banking Union.

The SRB adopted a decision on a two-day moratorium on the operations of Sberbank Croatia, which ended at midnight on Tuesday. A decision on launching its resolution was made before the expiry.

The Single Resolution Board decided with the Croatian National Bank (HNB) as the national resolution authority to start the resolution of Sberbank Zagreb, and the Croatian Postal Bank (HPB) became its new owner.

The HPB said on Wednesday that Sberbank Croatia was about to begin operating under the name Nova Hrvatska Banka (New Croatian Bank).

Hrebac said the crisis was resolved owing to coordinated action between national and European bodies, the role of the state, and the media having conveyed relevant messages to prevent panic.

Sberbank has been saved and is normally continuing with its operations and all its clients are safe, Hrebac said, recalling that if the bank had gone bankrupt, clients with deposits insured under the national deposit insurance scheme of up to €100,000 would have been paid, which would have required around HRK 3.8 billion. In addition to that, the bank also holds deposits amounting to more than 100,000 euros as well as deposits not covered by the deposit insurance scheme, i.e. those by financial institutions.

Asked if Sberbank's liquidation would have meant the loss of around four billion kuna of uninsured deposits, Hrebac said that they would not have been lost and that all clients would have been able to access their money because Sberbank was a good, highly capitalized credit institution.

Those clients would have obtained their deposits through bankruptcy proceedings, she said but noted that such proceedings take time.

Answering a reporter's question, Hrebac said that one could not speak about Sberbank Croatia's nationalization because the decisions were not made by the state.

The HPB paid HRK 71 million for Sberbank Croatia, and the former owners, if they want to, may appeal against the price is too low, and if found to be right, they would be paid the difference from the Single Resolution Fund, she said, underlining again the importance of accession to the Single Resolution Mechanism because it has funds worth more than €55 billion.

Had the bank gone bankrupt, what would have been left for shareholders at the end of the process, after the payment of creditors' claims, she wondered, adding that "no payments have been made to shareholders in any of the bankruptcy proceedings so far."

Sale of Croatia Banka not completed or suspended 

Asked if the process of the sale of Croatia Banka had come to a halt, Hrebac said that it had neither been completed nor suspended, stressing that the bank had in the meantime significantly stabilized its business and was meeting all regulatory demands.

"The process is ongoing," she said, recalling that two binding offers had been submitted for Croatia Banka and noting that the bank was very stable.

Croatia Banka is fully owned by HAOD, which launched its sale in July 2020.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Croatian HPB Takes Over Sberbank, Clients Can Breathe Easy

March the 3rd, 2022 - Following alarming reports of Zagreb and Split residents lining up outside Sberbank branches to withdraw any cash they had in accounts there after harsh sanctions were imposed by most of the world on Russia, the Croatian HPB has taken over and clients can now breathe easy.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian Sberbank clients' money is safe yet again, and business conditions remain unchanged. On Wednesday, March the 2nd, at 12:00, the bank opened its branches for all of its clients and continued its regular operations as part of the HPB Group,'' the statement reads.

"We reacted in an extremely short time and enabled our fellow citizens to freely deposit their funds. At the same time, the acquisition of Sberbank strengthens the Croatian HPB's future position on the market, which is great news for our employees and shareholders alike. As of today, our new clients can continue to use all of their financial services normally, without any restrictions, and as such I'd like to congratulate everyone who did their best to resolve this situation as soon as possible,'' said HPB CEO Marko Badurina.

The Croatian National Bank (CNB/HNB) announced earlier not so long before that that the Single Resolution Committee had made a decision on Tuesday, in co-operation with the Croatian National Bank as the national resolution authority, initiating the resolution process over Sberbank d.d. Zagreb, and the new owner is now the Croatian HPB (Hrvatska postanska banka).

HPB is one of the leading banks in the Republic of Croatia, and back in 2021 it achieved the best result in 30 years of the bank's history and a record net profit of 202 million kuna.

HPB pointed out that this bank is one of the leaders in innovation and digitalisation of the sector, and for many years it has stood out as the most active in the programme of subsidised housing APN loans.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

In Worst Case Scenario, How Safe Are Croatian Sberbank Savings?

March the 1st, 2022 - We recently wrote about Croatian Sberbank clients lining up outside Sberbank in Split and Zagreb to withdraw their cash as countries across Europe and the rest of the world imposed harsh sanctions on Russia following its recent invasion of Ukraine. How safe are Croatian Sberbank savings in reality?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, the sense of general nervousness over sanctions imposed against Russian banks by many countries has resulted in the aforementioned queues in front of Sberbank's branches in both Zagreb and Split as Croatian Sberbank savings are withdrawn. The Croatian Deposit Insurance Agency says, however that ''there is no reason to panic, Croatian Sberbank savings are safe regardless of the war and the sanctions''.

“The deposit insurance system has been in place for more than twenty years now, there is no reason to panic about deposits in any bank. At the moment, Sberbank Croatia has slightly more than 69,952 clients, of which 69,858 clients are insured and protected,'' said the director of the Agency, Marija Hrebac. All deposits up to 100,000 euros have been secured, and DAB currently has over 5.6 billion kuna at its disposal.

More about that can be read by clicking here.

The Croatian National Bank (CNB/HNB) has stated that the impact of the sanctions imposed against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine is divided.

"Given the first initial insight into European sanctions, Sberbank Croatia is not directly affected. However, there are also American sanctions, and under them are all institutions, including Sberbank Croatia,'' explained Vice Governor Michael Faulend, saying that the CNB will continue to look into all of the effects.

He said that the Croatian banking system was "very stable and well-capitalised and that it was important to emphasise that Sberbank occupies approximately two percent in this system. If something were to happen to the bank in an undesirable scenario, its impact on the financial system would not be so disruptive to overall relations,'' he assured those with Croatian Sberbank savings.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Croatian Sberbank Clients Begin Withdrawing Cash Following Russia Sanctions

February the 26th, 2022 - Croatian Sberbank clients have begun withdrawing cash from their accounts held with the well known Russian bank following sanctions placed on the country as a result of its unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, growing anxiety over sanctions against Russia and as such Russian banks, imposed by the West over the illegal invasion of Ukraine, sparked queues in front of Sberbank branches in the cities of Zagreb and Split on Friday as Croatian Sbernank clients waited to remove their money.

Fearing for their cash held in that bank, Croatian Sberbank clients began lining up to withdraw their money. The State Deposit Insurance Agency, under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance, convened an emergency press conference, telling people that their savings are safe regardless of the current tragic events in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.

"I'd like to remind people about the deposit insurance system that has existed for more than 20 years now and that there's no reason to panic about deposits in any bank in that system, including those in Sberbank. Sberbank RH currently has slightly more than 69,952 clients, of which 69,858 clients are insured and protected,'' said the director of the Agency Marija Hrebac, noting that all deposits up to 100,000 euros are insured in case of a bank failure.

"Even if there were serious problems, theoretically, if all other systems failed, the Croatian deposit insurance system wouldn't fail and would certainly protect Croatia's financial stability. If the worst-case scenario occurs, we can pay off all Croatian Sberbank clients who have deposits of up to 100,000 held with Sberbank,'' said Hrebac, saying that there is approximately 3.8 billion kuna of insured savings in that Russian bank. She added that only about 80 clients are currently not protected, and they're primarily financial institutions.

"We have the funds at our disposal, if the worst-case scenario happens by chance, those who have saved with Sberbank will be able to access their funds, which they keep there," Hrebac emphasised. According to the Croatian National Bank (CNB/HNB), as of June the 30th, 2021, total deposits entrusted to Sberbank RH amounted to 9.5 billion kuna.

Sberbank itself previously said that they would continue to operate as usual. “Sberbank Croatia (RH) will be operating as usual, providing all products and services to all its clients. Sberbank Croatia is part of the Sberbank Europe Group - a European financial institution with a European banking license. We operate here on the local market, primarily at the service of Croatian Sberbank clients, under the regulation and supervision of the European Central Bank and the local Croatian National Bank,'' reads the statement on the website.

To briefly recall, back in November, the Russian Sberbank announced that it was withdrawing from the markets of Central and Eastern Europe. The bank's operations here in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Hungary were sold to Miodrag Kostic's group, known and often referred to be regional media as the "Serbian sugar king". The sale was agreed between Sberbank Europe on the one hand, and Belgrade's AIK Bank, Gorenjska Bank from Kranj and AEC Ltd. on the other.

The value of the transaction is unofficially estimated at 500m euros, and its completion and formal completion is expected later this year, provided regulators give the green light for it.

"Sberbank Europe AG has decided to reduce its geographical presence in the CEE region in order to focus on key markets," said the then-largest Russian bank, which has been under sanctions since 2014 over the Russian annexation of Crimea.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Sberbank Sells Its Subsidiaries in Croatia, CEE Region

ZAGREB, 4 Nov 2021 - Sberbank Europe said on Wednesday that it was selling its subsidiaries in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Serbia, and Slovenia to the Belgrade-based AIK Bank, Slovenia's Gorenjska Banka, and Agri Europe Cyprus Limited.

Sberbank Europe AG signed an agreement with AIK Banka a.d. Beograd, Gorenjska Banka d.d., Kranj and Agri Europe Cyprus Limited for the sale of its subsidiary banks in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sberbank BH d.d. Sarajevo and Sberbank a.d. Banja Luka), Croatia (Sberbank d.d.), Hungary (Sberbank Magyarország Zrt.), Serbia (Sberbank Srbija a.d. Beograd) and Slovenia (Sberbank banka d.d.), with total assets of EUR 7.329 billion, 162 branches and around 600,000 clients, Sberbank Europe said in a press release.

"Sberbank Europe AG has decided to reduce its geographic presence in CEE in order to focus on key markets and explore new business models. Sberbank CZ, a.s. in the Czech Republic remains under the ownership of Sberbank Europe AG and will continue with its present business model.

"After careful analyses of several options, the transaction with AIK Banka, Gorenjska Banka, and Agri Europe Cyprus Limited resulted to be the most attractive one from Sberbank Europe AG perspective.

"The purchasers have a large regional presence as well as a clear vision of the future development, supporting further growth of the banks and ensuring that the clients will continue to receive services of the same high quality.

"The closing of the transaction is subject to approvals by national and international regulators as well as by national competition authorities and is expected to take place in 2022," the bank said.

This past summer Sberbank said that in the next couple of years it planned to withdraw from the European market as well as sell its majority interest in Fortenova, which includes the Slovenian retailer Mercator.

The Russian bank was the biggest creditor of the now-defunct Croatian agricultural and food conglomerate Agrokor, and after Agrokor's creditors reached a settlement in emergency administration proceedings, Sberbank took over control of close to 40% of assets of Fortenova Group TopCo, a subsidiary of Fortenova Group which took over Agrokor's business.

Sberbank has been present in Croatia since 2012 after Sberbank Europe bought Volksbank International, part of which was Volksbank Hrvatska. The bank has 31 offices and ranks eighth in terms of total assets on the Croatian banking market.

Sberbank Europe AG, based in Vienna, is a banking group owned entirely by Sberbank of Russia. At the end of 2020 its assets totaled €13 billion, it had 800,000 clients, operated 187 offices, and had more than 3,900 employees across Europe.

Make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Sberbank Plans to Sell Fortenova in Two Years - Daily

ZAGREB, 5 June 2021 - Sberbank CEO Herman Gref has said the Russian bank's goal with Croatian conglomerate Fortenova Group is to increase its value and exit without losses in the next two years, as reported by the Moscow newspaper Vedomosti, the Jutarnji List daily reported on Saturday.

Gref was speaking about that at an international economic forum in Saint Petersburg and his announcement that Sberbank will sell its share in Fortenova within two years has been carried by Bloomberg, citing the Russian news agency RIA.

Sberbank was the biggest creditor of Croatia's now-defunct conglomerate Agrokor with €1.1 billion and now holds 44% in Fortenova Group, which was formed in April 2019 following a settlement reached by Agrokor's creditors.

Fortenova's consolidated revenue in 2020 totalled HRK 21 billion, while EBITDA was HRK 1.3 billion. It employs 50,000 people and is probably the biggest employer in the region.

Asked for a comment, Fortenova chairman of the board of directors Maksim Poletaev said on Friday that Gref's announcement was a continuation of what Sberbank had been saying since Agrokor was restructured and Fortenova Group was formed.

As a financial investor, Sberbank plans to sell its stake when the company's value grows, he added.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, follow our dedicated business section.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Sberbank: "We're Expanding Our Business in Croatia"

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 4th of July, 2019, although for the past couple of years, mainly because of the enormous issues within and caused by the Agrokor crisis, the general speculation has been that the largest Russian bank, Sberbank, will eventually leave Croatia, and potentially even leave part of the country's closer region, but on Thursday, Sberbank clearly made it known that they're actively doing the opposite.

Sberbank has concluded an exclusive partnership with the Norwegian company Auka, and has jointly made the world premiere of a new mobile payment platform called Settle in Zagreb.

Csaba Soós, CEO of Sberbank Croatia, told Poslovni Dnevnik that in the last half a year, he has conducted a series of preparations for boosting Sberbank's business in small and medium-sized businesses and expanding its offer to the people.

"Sberbank wants to digitally transform and offer new services and new user experiences on the Croatian market, hence our partnership with Auka's Settle," stated Soós.

Settle is a mobile application that allows for easy mobile payments. For citizens, it's similar to KEKS Pay from Erste Bank, which already has more than 40,000 users, British Revolut, which has more than 20,000 users, and other such services that banks want to offer through Internet banking.

Daniel Döderlein, the founder and CEO of Auka, pointed out that this app is completely free to use.

Settle is searching for its place on the market as an alternative to POS terminals. As all cash registers in Croatia are fiscalised and connected to the Internet, Settle wants to allow for payment and invoicing straight through the internet.

"In order for a small business, a shop, a restaurant or a cafe to use Settle, it's enough for a company that offers a fiscal cash register connects with us, traders can automatically generate an QR code at the till, a Settle user can pay for it immediately from the application, and then get a fiscalised receipt as confirmation of payment,'' said Döderlein.

He added that by the end of the year, the service will be expanded to another three countries, and by the end of 2020, they want to be present on as many as ten markets. Looking at Auka's announcements, it shows that Settle's services will also expand to other aspects of business digitalisation such as e-bidding and e-invoicing.

Settle, allegedly, already has a contracted partnership in Croatia with at least four companies offering fiscal cash registers.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.