Africa's biggest bank by assets, Standard Bank, bought a third of Russia's number two investment bank, Troika Diago, in an asset swap and cash deal on Thursday.
The deal marks the first major foreign investment in the Russian financial sector since the onset of the economic crisis, which sent capital flooding out of the country late last year and effectively froze all mergers and acquisitions.
Troika and Standard Bank, which is 20% owned by China's biggest lender, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), said in a joint statement released for Russian media that Standard Bank would buy 33% in Troika.
Troika, Russia's oldest brokerage, in exchange will acquire Standard Bank's Russian unit and get a cash injection of $200-million "initially in the form of a convertible loan". Two executives of Standard Bank will join Troika's six-member board.
The acquisition will allow Troika to get access to Russian central bank's refinancing resources that it had been unable to get before being a brokerage.
"Troika will get support it has been seeking for several months. And Standard Bank will obtain Troika's client base," a source at one of Russia's financial regulators said on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to talk to the press.
Russian investment banks have been badly hit by the stock market collapse as the demand for investment banking products such as debt issues and initial public offerings has evaporated.
Renaissance Capital, Troika's biggest peer, sold half its shares to Russian metals and banking tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov in September for $500-million.
Troika, whose main owner is businessman Ruben Vardanyan, said its capital would amount to $850-million after the deal with Standard Bank is closed.
Standard Bank's Russian arm ranks among the country's top-200 banks by assets and equity capital. -- *******