Intesa Sanpaolo Activities in Russia
In Russia, the Italian banking group Intesa Sanpaolo has been represented for 45 years. Over the years, Intesa Sanpaolo became one of the main participants in the most important economic and financial transactions carried out in the framework of Russian-Italian business cooperation and an extensive program of cultural exchange between the two countries.
And the first contacts between Russia and the Italian commercial banks, which later became part of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group, were established even earlier. In 1924 Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) started a business relationship with the Soviet Union which was officially recognized by the Italian government. Since then BCI actively cooperates with the Soviet government. The bank was involved in many significant projects, the most famous of which was the financing of the car manufacturing plant in Togliatti in the 1960s.
On the initiative of Raffaele Mattioli, the President of Banca Commerciale Italiana, the bank became involved in financing the first gas pipeline which connected the Soviet Union and Italy (the end point of the gas pipeline was the city of Sergnano in the Province of Cremona) at the end of the 1960s. The gas pipeline was opened in 1974. In 1987 Banca Commerciale Italiana joined the Italian delegation in London that signed an agreement to double gas supplies between Italy and the USSR.
In October, 1973, Banca Commerciale Italiana opened the first Representative Office of a foreign bank in Moscow.
International Moscow Bank was founded in 1989, with the participation of Soviet and western shareholders, including Banca Commerciale Italiana. This was an important stage of the development of the bank in Russia. The Italian bank already had similar experience in Hungary, and was invited by Gosbank of the USSR to host the new project. During this period BCI was among the top five foreign banks in terms of the loan portfolio of projects in the Soviet Union, which reached USD 300 million at that time.
Later, BCI, and many other major Italian banks, entered the Intesa Sanpaolo Group.
Intesa Sanpaolo has gained wide working experience in Russia, including servicing foreign trade operations between Russian and Italian companies, and financing major investment projects in Russia.
Intesa Sanpaolo participated into the organization of financing the “Blue Stream” project in 2000. This project envisioned the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey, passing under the Black Sea. Intesa Sanpaolo was involved in financing another major Russian project — the construction of the “Nord Stream” gas pipeline for transportation of natural gas from the Russian city of Vyborg on the Baltic Sea to the German city of Greifswald, from where the gas would be distributed to major markets of Western Europe.
Intesa Sanpaolo together with a consortium of Swiss oil trader Glencore and Qatari sovereign fund QIA actively participated in the privatization deal of 19.5% of Rosneft shares. Intesa Sanpaolo provided a EUR 5.2 billion syndicated loan to the Glencore and QIA consortium for the purchase of a 19.5% stake in Rosneft.
The transaction for the purchase of Rosneft shares was closed on January 3, 2017. At the same time, Banca Intesa acted as a mortgage agent in respect of the pledge of Rosneft shares in Russian jurisdiction. According to the results of the transaction, the RF budget received funds from privatization of shares in the amount of RUB 710.8 billion.
In April 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree awarding the leaders of the Qatar Sovereign Fund, Glencore and Intesa Sanpaolo with Russian state awards. Carlo Messina, Chief Executive Officer of the Intesa Sanpaolo Banking Group, was awarded the Order of Friendship. Professor Antonio Fallico, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Banca Intesa, was awarded the Order of Honor.
Intesa Sanpaolo’s activities in Russia are much broader than just those of its subsidiary bank. The Group serves more than a half of the foreign trade operations between Russia and Italy, carries out the majority of the operations related to Italian investments in Russia and Russian investments in Italy, and acts as a major investor and partner in many national and international Russian projects.