First National City Bank branch in Russia, Petrograd, 1917
Citi first entered Russia on the eve of the Revolution. In 1916, Citi, named at that time National City Bank (NCB), underwrote bonds to support the government of the Russian Empire as World War I took its toll on the countries' resources. Believing that Russia would soon emerge from the war and embark on a period of rapid economic development, NCB executives established a branch in Petrograd on January 15, 1917. Just two months later, the tsar was forced to abdicate and a new, liberal government took power. Even as the battles raged in the streets of Petrograd, the bank established a new branch in Moscow in November. By December, the new Bolshevik government had taken control of the major cities of European Russia. On February 3, 1919, the bank established a branch in the city of Vladivostok in the Far East, a meeting point for retreating soldiers and refugees. On March 13, 1920, all three branches were closed.
Between 1920 and 1970, diplomatic and economic difficulties, followed by WWII and then the Cold War prevented the bank from re-entering the country. In the 1970s, however, during the period of detente US-Soviet trade increased and there was greater contact between the two countries. In June 1973, the Soviet government gave Citi permission to establish a limited presence in the USSR and, in 1974, the bank opened a representative office in Moscow on Karl Marx Avenue. Six years later, with the onset of the Afghanistan War and increasing tensions between the East and the West, the office was shut down.
In 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and emergence of the Russian Federation on the global marketplace, Citi once again had the opportunity to open a representative office in Moscow. Having opened its office on October 1, 1992, by November 1, 1993, the bank had received all the necessary licenses to provide banking services in the Russian Federation, thus becoming one of the first international banks to enter the Russian market. In January 1994, Citi was inaugurated as a financial institution focused on corporate banking services, financing and trade. In 1995, Citi advised Mosenergo - the largest generating company operating on fossil fuel in Russia - on the first-ever ADR issue by a Russian company. It was Citi Russia's first major deal after its opening. On February 7, 1996, the bank opened a branch in St. Petersburg. Citi engaged in business and development financing for government bodies and a wide spectrum of corporate clients.
In 1998, Russia was hit by a financial crisis; although many other international banks left, Citi remained. As a result, Citi Russia became stronger and greatly expanded its presence in the Russian market. In November 2002, the bank launched a retail banking business and began to expand its presence with new branches and sales centers. By 2010, Citi's retail operations in Russia were serving more than one million Russian clients.
In 2010, Citi acted as the joint lead manager of a USD 5.5 billion bond placement for Russia, the second largest dollar debt placement by an emerging market and Russia's first placement in the global capital markets since 1998.
In 2011, Citi was chosen by HSBC as its preferred partner for winding down its retail operations in the country. HSBC's retail clients in Moscow and St. Petersburg have the option to transfer their current and deposit accounts to Citi Russia.
In 2013, Citi marked a major milestone in our role as a leading international debt capital market intermediary: $100 billion in funds raised for Russian and CIS Eurobond issuers since participating in the debut placement in 1997.
In 2014, Citi’s focus on innovative formats in the development of Citi’s branch network has been very visible. The bank opened three Smart Branches — full-service retail branches which place a strong emphasis on digital technologies and require minimal staffing. Smart Branches are helping Citi to make the consumer banking network one of the most efficient in the industry.
In 2016, Forbes magazine for the third time recognized Citi as the most reliable bank in Russia. This recognition is a tribute to the strength, sustainable positions of Citi in Russian market and to the hard work of our people, who are so focused on delivering top-quality products and services.