Guselnikov sells off stake in Latvia's PNB bank

Take note – story published 4 years ago

Banker Grigory Guselnikov announced on Twitter June 27 that he had sold his majority stake in Latvia's PNB bank. The tweets in English and Russian came a day before the bank published the news on its website.

The Russian-born British citizen said he had sold his shares to unnamed "EU and U.S. investors".

A statement from PNB bank, which changed its name from Norvik bank in November last year, said

"A group of US and European investors have decided to take over the majority shareholding in AS PNB Banka. Such a decision has been taken following the assessment of the economic potential of Latvia and Latvian banking sector. The agreement provides for the acquisition of the controlling stake of the Bank’s majority shareholder Grigory Guselnikov and additional capital support in the future for the Bank.

"In the coming weeks the new shareholders and the Bank will develop and present to the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) an updated business development strategy, which will encompass expanding products and services for international and Latvian clients, modern banking technology and a long-term investment strategy.

And in a significant addition to the statement, the bank said the new shareholders "have no interest in pursuing PNB Banka’s court proceedings against the Republic of Latvia, the Financial and Capital Markets Commission and the European Central Bank."

Chairman of the Board of PNB Bank, Oliver Bramwell said "discussions with potential investors have been held for some time" but also provided no details about the identities of the new owners other than to say they have "experience in various global financial organisations".

Following the arrest of Latvian central bank governor Ilmārs Rimšēvics last year, Guselnikov and Rimšēvics became embroiled in a bitter war of words that also sucked in the Prime Minister and Finance Minister. Guselnikov was also a frequent critic of the business environment in Latvia and was in the process of taking Latvia to international arbitration as previously reported by LSM, alleging "unfair, arbitrary, improperly motivated and unreasonable regulatory treatment."

In March this year, regulatory oversight of PNB was given directly to the European Central Bank. PNB also happens to have a former NATO Secretary General on its council.  In July 2017 Norvik was fined more than a million euros by the financial regulator after being named by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as one of the Latvian banks used to channel funds to North Korea.


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