Goldman Sachs leaves Russia over Ukraine invasion

A sign is displayed in the Goldman Sachs reception area in Sydney, Australia.

David Gray | Reuters

Goldman Sachs says it will leave Russia and become the first major global investment bank to do so after the country invaded neighboring Ukraine last month.

The bank said in an email statement on Thursday that it is working to wind down operations in Russia.

“Goldman Sachs is ending its operations in Russia in accordance with regulations and licensing requirements,” a bank spokeswoman said. “We are focused on supporting our customers around the world in managing or terminating pre-existing obligations in the marketplace and ensuring the well-being of our people.”

The move is the latest sign of Russia’s increasing isolation in the third week of President Vladimir Putin’s campaign to overthrow Ukraine’s government. Technology companies, including Apple and Google, and payment companies such as Visa and Mastercard were among the first to withdraw from Russia, followed by retail brands such as McDonald’s and Starbucks.

Most major US banks had modest operations in Russia, a geographically large country with a relatively small economy. Citigroup had the largest exposure as of late 2021 at $9.8 billion, according to the filings. According to analysts at Bank of America, Goldman would have total exposure of $940 million, including $650 million in credit, or less than 10 basis points of its total assets.

Meanwhile, banks including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley are not disclosing their exposure to Russia on the files, which analysts say suggests limited transactions with the country.

Citigroup last year announced plans to sell its Russian operations as part of a strategic overhaul, well before the conflict started. But the war has forced it to run its consumer banking operations there on a “more limited” basis and could reportedly force Citigroup to simply shut down.

While New York-based Goldman is closing its operations in Russia, it is still facilitating trading in debt securities tied to the nation, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the bank’s move.

“In our role as a market maker intervening between buyers and sellers, we help our clients reduce their risk in secondary-market Russian securities traded without the desire to speculate,” the bank said.

With coverage from Jim Forkin of Slice Mag.