Deutsche Bank joins peers in winding down operations in Russia

March 12, 2022, 3:52 PM UTC

Deutsche Bank AG reversed course and is now joining Wall Street banks Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. in pulling back from business in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Like some international peers and in line with our legal and regulatory obligations, 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,” the Frankfurt-based bank said in a statement Friday, adding that it has already “substantially reduced” its exposure to the country since 2014. “There won’t be any new business in Russia.”

The statement from Deutsche Bank marks a swift change for Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing, who said a day ago that the German lender wouldn’t pull out of Russia.

“We are often asked why we are not withdrawing completely from Russia,” Sewing said Thursday in a memo to staff. “The answer is that this would go against our values. We have clients who cannot exit Russia overnight. And, as far as we can, we will continue to also support them, too, at this difficult time.”

Deutsche Bank’s withdrawal won’t include its information-technology hub in Russia. But the front-office pullback follows moves by JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank, which said Thursday it’s currently engaging in limited activities in the country, and Goldman Sachs, which said it plans to close its operations there. 

The finance-industry titans are joining those in other sectors, including McDonald’s Corp. and Coca-Cola Co., that have already said they’ll halt business operations in the nation as the death toll rises in Ukraine and millions of refugees flee.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman said Friday that the bank plans to keep an IT hub in Russia, which employs about 1,600 out of the lender’s total 1,700 staff in the country. That center, across two offices in St. Petersburg and Moscow, provides software development for the firm’s trading unit and other businesses, according to the bank’s website

The lender has previously flagged that the tech center is at risk of being shut down while saying that the scenario doesn’t pose a business-continuity issue since it’s one of several such facilities Deutsche Bank has around the world.

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