| 26 February 2024, Monday |

European bank shares rise as bankers wrestle with sanctions

European bank shares recovered early Friday after falling sharply the day before, despite the fact that bankers are grappling with the impact of a wave of sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Shares of major banks increased, with the European banking sector up 1.3 percent. This is only a minor rebound after Thursday’s 8% drop.

On Friday, details of a package of European penalties remained a work in progress as diplomats worked to finalize the most recent wave.

Broadly speaking, the European Union will freeze Russian assets in the bloc and halt its banks’ access to European financial markets as part of what EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described as “the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented”.

“This package includes financial sanctions, targeting 70% of the Russian banking market and key state-owned companies, including in defence,” EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter.

On Thursday, banks with the biggest exposure to Russia fell the most.

That included Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International which fell 23%, and was up 4.1% on Friday. Societe

Generale which lost 12% on Thursday, was up 0.1%.

Some investors have already been holding back on exposure to Russia going into the crisis.

Andrew Formica, the chief executive of Jupiter Fund Management said he had been “quite cautious going into this situation”.

“We had our own screening view of what businesses would most likely be impacted through strong sanctions and that had been an area where we’ve been seeking to reduce our exposure, feeling the risk should sanctions be imposed and therefore a very strong requirement to divest from those, which was something we’d already taken into account.”

  • Reuters