Česká spořitelna completes takeover of Russia-owned Sberbank Czech clients

The Czech bank has now acquired Sberbank's Czech-based customers, who have not been able to make payments for over 12 months.

Thomas Smith ČTK

Written by Thomas SmithČTK Published on 02.05.2023 16:00:00 (updated on 02.05.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Major Czech bank Česká spořitelna (ČS) has finally acquired the clients of Sberbank CZ – a division of the Russian-owned bank – after the Czech National Bank (ČNB) revoked its license to operate on the Czech market last year. 

The acquisition comes after an insolvency process that has lasted over 12 months. Over 27,000 residents and 3,000 corporate clients in Czechia had an account with Sberbank CZ. 

Frozen accounts since Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Since February 2022, Sberbank CZ customers have not been able to make payments via the bank, apply for new loans, or request an extension of their loans’ maturity dates. They will now be able to do so with ČS, and will have access to ČS online banking.

The contractual terms of the clients’ loans as established with Sberbank CZ have not changed during the transfer process. Any loan repayments sent to Sberbank CZ will be automatically returned to the sender.

ČS completed its purchase of Sberbank CZ’s loan portfolio last month, paying CZK 41 billion for loans worth a nominal value of CZK 47 billion.

Money still to be recovered

However, the insolvency process is not yet complete: some Czech Sbebrbank accounts have remaining (inaccessible) monies in the form of non-performing loans (NPLs). For example, the Vysočina region has CZK 2.4 billion blocked in Sberbank CZ, and the city of Jihlava has CZK 150 million.

The tender procedure for the sale of the NPLs is to begin this (second) quarter. Czech courts will also review Sberbank CZ’s creditors to ensure that repayments are properly redistributed.

Drastic action after February 2022

At the beginning of May last year, ČNB legally revoked Sberbank CZ's banking license, and the Prague Municipal Court subsequently sent the bank into liquidation. 

The Prague Municipal Court declared Sberbank CZ bankrupt at the end of August 2022 – hastened by the mass outflow of funds, drawn out by concerned clients following the start of the widescale Russia-Ukraine war.

At the end of 2020, Sberbank CZ was Czechia’s 10th-largest bank by assets, holding around CZK 90 billion according to Peníze.cz. Its customer base has always been relatively small in Czechia, where it ranked 13th in 2021 by client numbers.

The current client takeover is a reminder of Czechia’s robust stance towards Russian-sponsored aggression, as the government continues to impose heavy sanctions on the Moscow-headquartered Sberbank.

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