10:54 GMT +317 October 2019
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    In this picture taken with a fisheye lens the new headquarters of the European Central Bank is photographed in Frankfurt, Germany . file photo

    Sberbank Chief Predicts Regulation Will Lead to Rough Times For EU's Banks

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    German Gref, Head of Russia's Sberbank, criticized the European Central Bank's regulatory policy and forecasted a "very difficult period of time" for European banking in the future.

    In an interview with the Financial Times, Sberbank chief German Gref blamed the European Central Bank (ECB) for maintaining a "quite difficult" regulatory policy, suggesting that "European banking will have a very, very difficult period of time now."

    "I can't understand what they are doing, frankly," Gref, chief executive of Russia's biggest bank, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying.

    His stern remarks came after Sberbank's Austrian subsidiary was subjected to a stress test by the ECB in 2015, in a move that was preceded by Sberbank being added to the list of banks considered systemically significant.

    "If you have the push from the market, a squeeze from the regulator and bad macroeconomic conditions, you know, it does affect your health quite badly," Gref said.

    He argued that the ECB's tough regulatory position was handing US banks a big advantage.

    "If you look into the future of the European banks, we think it will be quite difficult. American banks have a quite different macroeconomic situation and their regulation is different," he pointed out.

    In addition, Gref touched upon the current state of the Russian economy, saying that Russia's three main problems include plummeting oil prices, Western sanctions and the slow pace of structural reform.

    Despite the ruble falling to its lowest level in more than a year last week, "interest rates and inflation were falling and Sberbank has started to increase its lending to corporate clients," Gref said.

    He added that the Ukraine crisis had affected the activity of Sberbank, which earlier suffered a sharp outflow of deposits but recently reversed its fortune "as customers of weaker Russian banks moved money to bigger rivals."

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    Tags:
    stress test, conditions, banking, market, policy, Sberbank, European Central Bank, German Gref
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