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European Financial Institutions Turn their back on Russia

  • Deutsche changes position late on Friday
  • Insurer Zurich says will not take new business in Russia
  • FTSE Russell ejects four UK-listed, Russia-focused stocks
  • JPMorgan sees European bank impact from commodity effects

FRANKFURT/LONDON/ZURICH, March 14 (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank reversed course and said it would pull out of Russia completely while the London Stock Exchange suspended all its services in the country as Western governments impose sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Deutsche, which had faced stinging criticism from some investors and politicians for its ongoing ties to Russia, said late on Friday that it would wind down its business there.

The surprise move puts the German lender alongside major U.S. banks Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, which exited Russia after the Feb. 24 invasion, and will add to pressure on rivals to follow in severing ties.

Deutsche had argued that it needed to support multinational firms doing business in Russia. But on Friday evening in Frankfurt, the bank suddenly reversed course.

"We are in the process of winding down our remaining business in Russia while we help our non-Russian multinational clients in reducing their operations," Deutsche said.

"There won't be any new business in Russia."

Insurer Zurich no longer takes new customers in Russia and will not renew existing business, a spokesperson told Reuters on Monday.

Asset managers have also said they will not make new investments in Russia and many Russian-focused funds have frozen due to the inability to trade following Western sanctions and counter-measures by Russia.

Diplomatic efforts to end the war were gearing up on Monday, with Ukrainian and Russian negotiators set to talk again after both sides cited progress, even though Russia attacked a base near the Polish border and fighting raged elsewhere. 

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation".

Britain's London Stock Exchange Group said late on Friday it was suspending all products and services for all customers in Russia, days after suspending the distribution of news and commentary in the country following new laws in Moscow.

"LSEG confirms it is suspending all products and services for all customers in Russia, subject to any regulatory requirements," the company said in a statement.

"We continue to support our employees in the region. We are also engaging with our customers outside Russia who depend on us for data and pricing information inside Russia. We are evaluating alternative options to continue providing these services."

Index provider FTSE Russell said on Monday it would delete four UK-listed, Russia-focused companies including Roman Abramovich's Evraz after many brokers refused to trade their shares.

Evraz along with Polymetal International, Petropavlovsk and Raven Property Group would be deleted from all FTSE's indexes during the March review, it said in a statement.

FTSE Russell said it had received feedback from its External Advisory Committees and market participants that trading in the shares was "severely restricted" as brokers refused to handle the securities, hitting market liquidity.

"Consequently, this will prevent index trackers from replicating the ongoing inclusion of these names within the FTSE Russell indices," FTSE Russell said.

JPMorgan says the majority of forecast risk for European banks from the Russia shock will come from commodity and economic spillover effects, with the sector down 16% since the end of February.

European banking stocks are off their lows, however, and rose 2.9% on Monday.

Additional reporting by Iain Withers and Joao Manuel Mauricio, Writing by Carolyn Cohn, Editing by Catherine Evans

Source: Reuters

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