Capital outflow has been concentrated exclusively in large banks over the last few months

Banks invested more than Rb 300bn ($10bn) in foreign assets in February. Growth in foreign borrowings and other borrowings from non-residents amounted to mere $2.5bn. Thus, net foreign assets of banks increased by $7.5bn to reach a record of $74bn in February.

Banks’ balance of internal foreign exchange assets and liabilities (i.e. foreign exchange assets invested in the country and borrowed from Russian residents) remained unchanged in February. As a result, the growth in net foreign exchange assets had an effect on foreign exchange position of banks which increased to a comparable value ($7.4bn), thus reflecting banks’ intense interest in foreign exchange assets. 

Capital outflow through the banking sector has been concentrated over the last few months exclusively in large state-owned banks. For example, net foreign exchange assets in Sberbank alone increased выросли by more than $6bn in February. Together with other large state-owned banks (Gazprombank, VTB Group banks and Russian Agricultural Bank), total capital outflow through these banks amounted to more than $8bn in February.  

At the same time, large state-owned banks account for all of the external borrowings in the preceding month. However, the growth in their foreign exchange assets exceeded many times the growth in foreign liabilities.

Thus, cross-border capital flows through the banking sector were governed basically by the behavior of the largest state-owned banks. 

Khromov M.Yu. – leading expert, Center for Structural Studies