On February 19, 2024, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBC:US)'s sale of its Russian unit to Expobank, allowing HSBC to exit the Russian market after negotiations.

This move comes after a waiting period of almost 22 months, counting from June 2022, when HSBC first agreed to sell its Russian unit, HSBC Bank (RR) LLC, to Expobank. The deal required Putin's approval due to increased restrictions on foreign asset sales in Russia. While the UK-based bank will finally be exiting Russia, it has not yet provided a comment regarding this development. Neither has Expobank.

Since almost two years ago, when Russia first commenced its invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of private companies have exited and shut down their Russian operations. This move is more often seen as a moral response to prompt the country to put an end to the war. Presently, while the war still carries on, these sanctions have had a negative impact on Russia’s economy. Several prominent brands are exiting Russia entirely, whereas others are either temporarily halting or reducing their activities in the country.

In its annual results report for 2022 - disclosed in February 2023 - HSBC reported a $300 million loss, on the expected sale of its Russian unit. Around the time of the sale’s announcement, several banks faced blockage of dumping their shares and exiting the country. While many other sectors swiftly moved out, Banks took longer amidst concerns presented by Russian laws.

Despite this news, Putin’s approval does not seem to indicate this would be an easy threshold for HSBC to cross. One example dates back to the Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo SPA (ISNPY:US) which secured Putin’s approval to sell its Russian assets on September 29, 2023. However, present reports say that the bank has yet to secure a transaction. 

On the Congressional trading side, HSBC has seen more purchases in the past year. From March 10 to October 13, Rep. Ro Khanna reported buying HSBC stock in six transactions. On Feb 27, 2023, Rep. Daniel Goldman bought up to $15,000 worth of HSBC shares. He later sold up to $250,000 of the stock on July 10, 2023, reporting capital gains. Rep. Goldman also sold up to $100,000 worth of Intesa Sanpaolo stock on July 10, reporting capital gains.