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During the three quarter of the yearprices for federal currency bonds and Russian Eurobonds grew faster than thefederal currency debt holdings of the Russian banks. Prices for federalcurrency bonds grew over 9 months between 17.6% and 48.8% depending on theissue, and for Russian Eurobonds between 11.3% and 25% while Russian federalcurrency debt holdings of an average Russian bank (less ARCO banks, Sberbankand Vneshtorgbank) grew almost 7% in dollar terms.

For a group of banks dealing in governmentdebt with more than average federal currency debt holdings, the annualizedweighted average revenue to assets ratio over 11 month of 2001 was 1.77%. Atthe same time, for the entire 2000 the ratio was only 1.54%. For anaverage Russian bank the ratio stood at 1.3% in 2000 and 2.1% annualized over11 months. As a result, banks with federal currency debt holdings higher thanRussia’s averagewhich dealt on this market appear less profitable after 11 months of2001compared to an average Russian bank.

Apart from lower profitability, banks thatpreferred to invest in federal currency debt look on the whole less capitalizedby comparison with an average Russian bank (theirs capital ratio is 12.6%against 18.65%). The gap though is gradually closing.

The capital ratio in this group of bankswas on average 11.8% at the start of 2001 to reach 12.6% by December. Over 9months assets grew almost at the same rate as the balance capital (25.6% vs.26.7%). But then in the subsequent 2 months there was a major shift: assetsgrew by 4.3%, whereas the capital rose by a whole 10.2%. An average Russianbank in October –November also increased their capital ratio from 17.9% to 18.65%, althoughfalling slightly short of the level at the start of the year (18.8%).

Table 5

Some indicators of the balance wherefederal currency debt
holdings in assets arehigher than average
(in percentage of assets bythe end of the month)

Indicators in % of assets**

Russian banks*

Banks with higher than averagefederal currency debt holdings in assets

12.00

11.01

12.00

11.01

Foreign currency assets

44.3

41.7

53.2

52.1

Assets in the bankingsector,

43.3

38.9

38.4

38.5

of which denominated incurrency

22.6

20.5

23.0

22.8

Loans to non-bankingsector,

37.4

43.3

34.6

37.1

of which denominated incurrency

15.3

16.2

15.7

15.9

Debt andstocks,

8.4

6.7

17.8

14.3

of which denominated incurrency

4.8

3.2

12.7

10.4

Federaldebt,

6.2

4.3

13.1

11.6

of which denominated incurrency

3.6

2.7

9.6

9.5

Accounts ofnon-financial sector,

27.9

25.4

25.6

30.7

of which denominated incurrency

7.2

5.6

6.8

9.4

Deposits,

20.5

23.4

29.1

28.2

of which denominated incurrency

14.7

16.4

23.8

21.0

Deposits of legalentities,

14.5

15.3

23.5

19.8

of which denominated incurrency

10.9

11.4

19.9

15.2

Privatedeposits,

6.0

8.1

5.6

8.4

of which denominated incurrency

3.7

5.0

3.9

5.8

Balancecapital

18.8

18.6

11.6

12.3

For reference:

Average assets in billion rubles

1.11

1.47

4.46

5.84

Estimated from data of CBR andSTIiK.

*less Sberbank, Vneshtorgbank and banksunder ARCO administration

** here and henceforth a weighted averagefor the group of banks

Banks onruble-denominated government debt market

In the structure of players on the GKO-OFZmarket, the share of the banking sector from the start of the year tended togrow while the proportions of non-residents and non-banking sector dwindled. Bythe end of October 2001, the banking sector accounted for 75.3% (against 61.5%at the start of the year – see Fig. 6), which continued the 2000 trend where the proportionof the banking sector grew, among other things, at the expense ofnon-residents.

Fig. 6

The changing proportion of the bankingsector in the aggregate GKO-OFZ holdings in 2001

Source: Central Bank of Russia

However, the data published by the CentralBank of Russia about the holders of the government bonds include its own,Central Bank’s,share in the aggregate GKO-OFZ holdings. The participation of commercialbanks proper in the aggregate GKO-OFZ holdings can be derived from theirbalances. Various indicators of their participation point to a fall in whatnever was an active involvement of the banks in this segment in2001.

At the start of the year out of more than1,300 active banks, 680 banks had in their holdings ruble-denominated federaldebt paper33. By the end of September, the number of banks with ruble federaldebt holdings dropped to 612. At the same time, the aggregate GKO-OFZ holdingswith Russian banks, in three quarters of 2001, grew 35% - from Rbs 103.2billion to Rbs 139.4 billion.

Instead, there were more banks dealing inGKO-OFZ: while in December 2000 the turnover in those transactions was reportedby 378 banks, in September 2001 they numbered 421. In absolute terms, theaggregate turnover of all active Russian banks showed a different pattern:while in December 2000 the turnover was Rbs 54 billion, in September 2001 theamount dropped to Rbs 41 billion. At the same time, if one discounts an almost100 percent reduction in the government debt turnover reported by Sberbank(from Rbs 26.5 billion in December 2000 to Rbs 13.9 bln. in September 2001),there will be no significant reversal in the turnover of the rest of thedealing banks in three quarters of 2001: Rbs 27.4 billion in December 2000 andRbs 27.2 billion in September 2001.

GKO-OFZ are traded at eight Russiantrading floors where MICEX is a leader. Banks are actively trading on thesecondary ruble debt market. At MICEX, over 90% dealers are banks. TheDecember turnover in ruble government debt was about Rbs 12 billion, which is15% more than in December 2000. Figure 7 shows that the average daily secondarytrading turnover in 2001 was going down throughout the first half of the year.There was no clear-cut pattern in the later half.

Fig. 7

Average daily secondary trading in GKO-OFZat MICEX
in 2001, in million rubles

Note: November and December values are lessvoluntary swaps of issue 25030

Source: Finmarket

Let us discuss the operations of theRussian banks that are the leading players on the GKO-OFZ market at therespective MICEX section. The sample is based on the lists published byMICEX and comprising GKO-OFZ dealers with the highest trade turnover on thesecondary market, which includes both trades on account of dealers and the onesmade for the clients. In August and September, the list had 29 banks and 1investment company. Among the top five dealers were Sberbank, DeutscheBank,Credit Suisse First Boston, Vneshtorgbank and Citibank. We dropped Sberbankfrom the discussed samples since it accounts for more than 70% of ruble federaldebt holdings of Russian banks.

The list of active dealers in the GKO-OFZsection at MICEX is relatively stable. According to September – August and December– November data in2001, 21 banks comprised the permanent group ofactive players in the period and were included in all lists drawn at thattime. The banks in this group were used forfurther analysis.

The aggregate turnover for the selectedbanks in September accounted for 28% of the aggregate turnover in GKO-OFZ byall active Russian banks with the exception of Sberbank (Table 10).

The proportion of ruble federal debtholdings in the assets of the leading GKO-OFZ operator banks was higher thanthat of an average statistical Russian bank (3.2% vs. 6%). In the first sixmonths the proportion dropped 1.4 times to 2.3% by 1 July (less Sberbank). Inthe third quarter, the decline continued so that by October the relevant valuewas 1.8%, a 1.8-fold reduction over three quarters of 2001.

Shrinking ruble debt holdings in the threequarters of 2001 were equally typical of an average Russian bank. The rublefederal debt holdings in the assets of an average statistical Russian bank(less Sberbank) by the end of September accounted for 1.75%, having droppedalmost 32% since the beginning of the year.

As a result, the year 2001 showed a trendtowards a closing gap between the ruble federal debt holdings of the moreactive GKO-OFZ operator banks and that of an average Russian bank. Byquarter four, the difference was a meager 0.05% (the ruble federal debt paperheld by the active GKO-OFZ operator banks accounted for 1.8% of the assetsagainst Russia’saverage of 1.75%). Given the universally decreasing proportion of ruble debtpaper in the assets of Russian bank, the holdings of the GKO-OFZ group of bankswere more pronounced (44% vs. 32%). In absolute terms, the ruble federal debt holdings of theleading operators of the GKO-OFZ market at MICEX also dropped almost 27% overthe three quarters of 2001 while overall for all Russian banks (less Sberbankand banks under ARCO administration) the respective value was 12.1%.

The average amount of assets for thesample group of banks by the end of the third quarter was by an order ofmagnitude higher than the average value for Russian banks (Rbs 27.5 billion vs.Rbs 1.5 billion).

The banks that were incorporated in thesample group proved more profitable over 9 months of 2001 by comparison with anaverage statistical Russian bank (revenues to assets ratio, annualized, stoodat 2.6% vs. 1.9%), or an average Moscow bank34, with its 1.7% ROAannualized over three quarters of 2001.

The current activity of the GKO-OFZoperators is low. Suffice it to say that the turnover for the above instrumentsis lower than balances on accounts while pre-crisis a monthly turnover exceeded2 to 3 times the balances on accounts used to record GKO-OFZ trades. In 2001,the turnover to balances ratio stood at 69% at the start of the year, to growslightly to 78% by October.

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