Russian bank giant Sberbank aims high in Czech Republic

Jiri Hovorka
1. 3. 2013 11:06
Sberbank sees Czech Republic as laboratory for its entire Central European business
A new Sberbank branch on Na Prikope street in Prague
A new Sberbank branch on Na Prikope street in Prague | Foto: Sberbank

Prage - Volksbank officially becomes Sberbank in the Czech Republic.

Austria's Volksbank has had a subsidiary in the Czech market since 1993. In September 2011, Russian banking giant Sberbank bought Volksbank's subsidiaries in the Czech Republic and six other countries in the former East Bloc.

In Russia, Sberbank is a major banking player, currently controlling almost 30 percent of the banking market. That's why it is safe to expect that the company will not settle for Volksbank's rather modest share of the Czech market.

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Exactly one year ago, Sberbank board deputy chairman Sergey Gorkov said at a press conference that the bank wanted to increase its market share in the Czech corporate client segment from the current two percent to five percent in the next four years. The Sberbank official also said that the Czech Republic would become a laboratory of sorts for the Russian group's business in entire Central Europe.

"We plan to introduce new products for small clients first in the Czech Republic. The local Volksbank is best prepared for these innovations," said Gorkov one year ago.

However, Sberbank does not plan to introduce any radical changes in the following months.

"We are preparing to improve the offer of current accounts for citizens, entrepreneurs and small companies. I do not want to reveal details yet," said Sberbank product manager Jaroslav  Sevela.

Volksbank has 23 branches in the Czech Republic. By the fall of 2013, all of them will have been renamed Sberbank.

Is Sberbank going to be a bank for Russian nationals in the Czech Republic? "Russian clients are important for us. But we do not focus solely on them. We offer our products to Russian clients under the same or very similar conditions as to other clients," said Sevela.

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