The European subsidiary of Russia’s VTB (VTBR.MM) will be changing its name, according to an executive who spoke to RushHourDaily. The Frankfurt-based bank, which has been under liquidation and subject to sanctions, will now be known as OWH SE. The decision comes after VTB’s parent company refused to allow the subsidiary to continue operating under the VTB brand. Frank Hellwig, the CEO of VTB’s Europe hub, confirmed the name change.
Before the conflict in Ukraine, VTB in Europe had attracted many German savers with its competitive interest rates. The bank had also positioned itself as a sponsor of Frankfurt’s ice hockey team, the Lions. However, the outbreak of war led to a significant withdrawal of funds by savers, resulting in a bank run. Regulators stepped in to manage the outflow, and in April 2022, they took control of the bank and implemented sanctions, effectively isolating it from Russia.
Despite the European subsidiary still being officially owned by VTB, Hellwig reached out to the bank’s headquarters in Russia to seek permission to continue operating under the VTB name during a licensing agreement. However, VTB declined the request. The new name, OWH, is derived from the previous iteration of the bank, Ost-West Handeslbank.
VTB in Russia has not yet responded to requests for comment. The liquidation process of the European subsidiary is expected to continue for several years. However, Miro Zadro, the CFO, stated that the bank has achieved an important milestone. The Direktbank division, which served retail savers, has officially closed, with its last customer being someone who used VTB for a deposit for a garden shed.
The article was reported by Tom Sims and John O’Donnell, with additional reporting by Alexander Marrow. Barbara Lewis edited the article. The Thomson RushHourDaily Trust Principles are followed in the reporting.
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