Lonely Avetisyan: ambitious banker loses his team and influence

Last year, Artem Avetisyan, initiated the establishment of the reference bank for SMEs on the basis of "Uniastrum" and "Orient Express." Implementation of that idea will be difficult - the majority of Avetisyan's team will not enter the combined bank, and he's in the minority in the board of Orient Express. 
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Last year, ASI director Artem Avetisyan agreed to merge his Uniastrumbank with the bank "Orient Express", the controlling shareholder of which was Baring Vostok. Simultaneously, he wrote to Vladimir Putin a letter in which he outlined the concept of establishing a basic bank for lending to small and medium-sized businesses. To this end, the financier suggested uniting Uniastrum and Vostochny with Credit Europe Bank and SME Bank (owned by Vnesheconombank). The president liked the idea. The total assets of four banks at that time amounted to 588 billion rubles, the combined structure could take 17 place in the market and work in the whole of Russia.

Despite the ambitious start and approval of the president, on the way to the top 20 Avetisyan ran into difficulties - most of his team from Uniastrum did not go to the united bank. Two people close to the leadership of the united bank told about mass reductions in the "Oriental" Forbes. Allegedly, immediately after the official announcement of Uniastrum and Vostochnoy merger at the end of January, Alexei Kordichev ordered the reduction of almost two-thirds of the employees of the head office of Uniastrum Bank. Kordichev himself does not confirm this, but says that the reductions in the bank do indeed take place, including at the expense of Uniastrum employees. "I note that the integration of banks took two months and included technological integration," said Alexei Kordychev, Forbes. - Now the bank operates on a single it-platform, rather than two parallel ones - this means that a number of processes and functions can be reduced, while reducing the bank's expenses. We reduce the most expensive back-office units that were located in Moscow (many of them are units of Uniastrum Bank), leaving similar ones in the regions. "

A similar situation arose when the Vostochnoye board was approved. Earlier Kordichev told that the board of the merged bank will include only two people from Uniastrum. According to the media, it will be Vyacheslav Harutyunyan and Oksana Misane. The latter answered Uniastrum for the direction of privileged banking services and came from the SMP Bank. Harutyunyan was in charge of the business development direction (operational, it and marketing blocks) and before joining Avetisyan he worked in Sberbank.

The united "East" has no controlling shareholder now. The largest share (44.6%) in the bank belongs to the funds of Baring Vostok. Avetisyan through Cyprus Finvision Holdings Limited owns 32% of Vostochny, another 4% - from its partners Sherzod Yusupov and Yuri Danilov. The acquaintance of Avetisyan asserts that he has an option to buy out the shares of other shareholders, with the help of which he can in the future bring his share to the controlling share. In the meantime, the members of Uniastrum's board of directors are in the minority: two out of nine are Avetisyan and Sherzod Yusupov. Alexey Kordichev does not comment on the information on the option. Avetisyan and Yusupov declined to comment.

Do not look obvious and the prospects of joining the "Eastern" SMEs of the Bank, as proposed in a letter to Putin Avetisyan. The SME Corporation, which includes SME Bank, declined to comment on a possible deal. According to a source close to the corporation, Alexander Braverman, appointed by its head in 2015, and Vnesheconombank's representatives oppose the project. A source in the government says that it was decided to first test the idea of a support bank for small and medium-sized businesses on Avetisyan banks. "SME Bank should build partnerships with them," the official said. "If in two to three years there will be a need or an opportunity to unite them, then we will do it."

According to Kordichev, negotiations on merger with Credit Europe Bank have been frozen. "The shareholder of JSC Credit Europe Bank" is not negotiating and negotiating the sale or merger of the bank with any financial structure, "Forbes said in the bank.

Earlier, the rating agency Moody's in its release noted that the merged bank may have a need for additional reserves - due to the merger of the assets of Uniastrum Bank. According to the agency, before joining 16% of Uniastrum loans were overdue by more than 90 days, another 16% were restructured. At the same time, the current level of reservation - 19% of the loan portfolio of Uniastrum "before its accession to the" Eastern "- the agency's analysts considered inadequate. At the same time, Moody's expects that even despite the possible additional charging of reserves, the merged bank this year will be able to demonstrate profits. Recently, the "Vostochny" bank has completed the audit of the Central Bank. One of the bank's recent board of directors discussed the execution of the regulator's instruction. In the "Eastern" they say that it is related to the current activity of the bank and there is no talk of additional reserves.

Uniastrumbank was bought by Artem Avetisyan in 2015 - then the bank controlled the Bank of Cyprus (BoC). Director of ASI paid for "Uniastrum" with assets of 47 billion rubles € 7 million - 64 times less than seven years earlier received from Cypriots the founders of the bank Gagik Zakaryan and Georgy Piskov, who sold 80% of BoiC "Uniastrum" for € 450 million.