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Russia sanctions see Amsterdam Trade Bank declared bankrupt

While ATB had not been directly targeted, sanctions against the bank’s largest shareholder forced it to declare bankruptcy on Friday

The commodity finance and shipping bank had been planning to move out of shipping and had been taking no new maritime loans, but 40% of its loan book was still focused on shipping assets, according to the most recent financial reports

AMSTERDAM Trade Bank, a subsidiary of Russia’s Alfa Bank focused on commodity finance and shipping, has been declared bankrupt following difficulties stemming from international sanctions targeting Russia.

While ATB itself had not been sanctioned, the bank said that US and British sanctions had “caused operational difficulties, as the majority of ATB’s counterparties, including corresponding banks... find it difficult to continue supporting ATB.”

According to its 2020 annual report, the most recent on record, ATB had assets of around €1.2bn ($1.3bn) and equity of €174m.

More than 40% of its loan book was made up of shipping, which accounted for €220m in its 2020 accounts. The rest of the loan book was largely focused on commodity trading, with trading companies making up 18% and energy accounting for 13%.

In its shipping book, dry bulk accounted for 20%, product tankers 28%, chemical tankers 20%, container vessels 13 %, liquefied petroleum gas and liquefied natural gas carriers 19%.

Prior to the impact of sanctions taking hold, ATB had been attempting to move away from maritime. No new shipping loans would have been part of its re-brand, which would have seen the bank called FIBR.

Instead of providing traditional shipping loans, asset finance and credit for commodities traders dealing in countries within the Commonwealth of Independent States, an intergovernmental organisation made up of post-Soviet nations throughout Eurasia, the bank had planned to move into a digital, connected, cloud-based banking platform supplying small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe.

The shift, however, appears to have come too late.

A statement issued by the Dutch central bank last week said ATB depositors would be covered up to €100,000 ($108,000) each under the Netherlands’ deposit guarantee system.

According to filings at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, the bank’s ultimate beneficial owner is Mikhail Fridman, the Russian-Israeli billionaire who is contesting Western sanctions imposed on him following Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine.

Alfa Bank is subject to US sanctions, but has not been targeted by the European Union.

Despite plans to move out of shipping, ATB had been one of the founding signatories to the Poseidon Principles, the global framework for assessing and disclosing the climate alignment of financial institutions’ shipping portfolios.

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