Morgan Stanley to Shut Down Moscow Equities and FX Desks

(Bloomberg) -- Morgan Stanley is shutting down its equities and currency sales and trading desks in Moscow, becoming the latest foreign bank to reduce its presence in Russia, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The bank plans to move some employees to London, while other positions will be cut, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans are private. The U.S. lender has about 40 employees on the sales and trading desks and providing support in Moscow, while its remaining local presence will be focused on corporate finance, capital markets and mergers and acquisitions, the people said.

“Morgan Stanley remains committed to Russia and will maintain our longstanding on-the-ground presence in Moscow and ensure that our clients in Russia continue to benefit from the capabilities of the firm, in particular as it relates to investment banking and global capital markets,” the bank’s press service said in a statement, declining to comment specifically on the closures.

Russian markets have been punished by increasing sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European Union to punish the Kremlin since the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Morgan Stanley joins other foreign lenders that were once major players locally, including Deutsche Bank AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, that have pulled back in Moscow as the costs of operating became too steep for the potential rewards.

Local banks have also scaled back their ambitions. In October, Sberbank PJSC said it would merge Sberbank CIB with its corporate banking division.

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