JPMorgan joins Goldman Sachs in pulling back from Russia

The finance-industry titans are joining the likes of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola in halting business operations in Russia as the death toll rises in Ukraine and millions of refugees flee.

By Bloomberg

JPMorgan Chase & Co. joined Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in pulling back from Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine last month.

JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank, is currently engaging in limited activities in the country, the New York-based company said in a statement Thursday. Goldman Sachs 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. The moves will further isolate Russia, a nation of 144 million people and the world’s 11th-largest economy.

“Current activities are limited, including helping global clients address and close out pre-existing obligations; managing their Russian-related risk; acting as a custodian to our clients; and taking care of our employees,” JPMorgan said in the statement.

JPMorgan’s direct exposure to Russia is small. The nation wasn’t included among the firm’s top 20 country exposures outside the U.S., according to a regulatory filing last month. The bank’s headcount in the country is in the low 100s, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Goldman has maintained a presence in Russia in recent years, but the country doesn’t amount to a meaningful portion of its global banking business. At the end of 2021, the firm’s total credit exposure to Russia was $650 million, most of which was tied to non-sovereign counterparties or borrowers.

Interactive - Companies leaving Russia

“We are focused on supporting our clients across the globe in managing or closing out pre-existing obligations in the market and ensuring the well-being of our people,” New York-based Goldman said in a statement earlier Thursday.

Goldman has already been moving some of its Moscow-based staff to Dubai, responding to requests by some of its Russia staff to work from a different location.

Visa, Mastercard

Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. have also suspended their operations in Russia. Each of the credit-card giants gets about 4% of net revenue from businesses linked to the country.

Citigroup Inc.’s roughly 3,000 workers there give it by far the largest presence of any major U.S. bank in Russia. The company said Wednesday it’s assessing operations there. It previously announced efforts to exit its consumer business there, and is now operating it “on a more limited basis given current circumstances and obligations,” Edward Skyler, executive vice president of global public affairs, said in a statement.

Potential suitors for Citigroup’s retail operation in Russia are now subject to sanctions imposed by the U.S. government, adding another obstacle to the planned sale. It said it had about $9.8 billion of loans, assets and other exposure tied to Russia, local companies and their counterparties, as well as to the Bank of Russia, as of the end of 2021.

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