Russian online bank Tinkoff hires co-CEO to start push in Southeast Asia

Russian online bank Tinkoff has appointed a co-managing director to lead a $ 200 million expansion in Southeast Asia and several new lines of business.

Pavel Fedorov, former investment banker and chief energy officer at Morgan Stanley, will work alongside the bank’s founding UK chief executive, Oliver Hughes, at Tinkoff’s holding company TCS to focus on a new international growth strategy, the company said on Monday.

Tinkoff, who has 17 million customers in Russia and was recently named by the country’s central bank as “systemically important” for the health of its financial system, has climbed in value this year to a market cap of 22, $ 5 billion.

Fedorov’s appointment is the first step in the company’s plan to expand into new markets, according to people familiar with the plans.

The group, which recently applied for a banking license in the Philippines, is considering launches in India and Indonesia in the coming months as well as possible future expansion into African and South American markets, the sources said.

They added that the bank was not considering Europe, where the fintech market is already crowded with companies such as Revolut and Klarna that offer similar services and where geopolitical concerns have created difficulties for Russian companies.

Tinkoff plans to devote approximately $ 200 million to its international growth over the next two years by offering Asian clients its credit and debit accounts as well as Robinhood-style financial brokerage and small business loans, have people said.

The move marks a return to finance for Fedorov, a former Morgan Stanley banker who has spent most of the last decade in senior positions at state-owned oil group Rosneft and mining company Norilsk Nickel before joining Tinkoff in as a member of the board in September.

The appointment of joint CEOs with different mandates is rare in Russia’s top-down management culture.

TCS’s board of directors said the move “would further develop its core entrepreneurial spirit and culture of innovation while deepening its leadership bench.”

Tinkoff enjoyed a record year of growth after a deal to sell him to Yandex, Russia’s largest tech company, collapsed at the last minute.

Founder Oleg Tinkov, a former beer and dumpling mogul, then took a step back as he battled a leukemia diagnosis and fought extradition charges to the United States for tax evasion he has finally settled last month.

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Tinkoff’s share price has quadrupled since he relinquished control of the company at the end of the year.

Russia’s finance and tech leaders are well regarded in their industries globally, but have historically struggled to succeed in other markets. Sberbank, the largest state-owned bank, and VTB have both canceled their European operations in recent years amid U.S. and European sanctions.

More and more tech companies have struggled to compete with the Silicon Valley giants outside of Russia or have encountered similar regulatory challenges.

Additional reporting by Polina Ivanova

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David A. Albanese