Limited Liability Company Commercial Bank “Hellenic Bank” (the Bank) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hellenic Bank Group.
The Bank was set up in order to spearhead the expansion of the Group in the Russian market. The parent Bank – Hellenic Bank Public company Limited – has been active in serving the needs of Russian customers since the late nineties. Through its three specialised International Business Centres (IBCs) based in Limassol Nicosia and Larnaka, Cyprus it has developed a range of services and products specifically tailored to the needs of Russian companies and private customers.
The in depth experience gained through servicing these customers throughout these years and their demands for provision of banking services in Russia prompted the Bank to seriously study the possibility of expanding in a careful and targeted way into the Russian market.
Thus, in the summer of 2007 the Board of Directors approved the expansion plan to Russia that was drafted based on the experiences gathered from Russian customers and the feedback of the Representative Office set up in the Russian capital Moscow in 1998. Under the first stage of the expansion plan in November 2007 a protocol was signed with the Central Bank of Russia to commence the licensing process. The search was also initiated for suitable premises to house the new Unit and the first Russian members of the Project Team were also recruited.
The Setup Project proceeded apace. By the end of August 2008 a suitable building was located and purchased at 21 Rozhdestvenskiy Bulvard in the centre of Moscow. With 1,500 square meters of space and ample parking space for customers this elegant completely rebuilt mansion in a shell and core state held the prospect of creating an environment that would project the right image for the Bank and provide comfortable surroundings both for customers and staff.
The application process was also progressing satisfactorily as was work on the core banking system.
As the Expansion Plan was being implemented the first signs of the ensuing global financial crisis began to appear. The deterioration of financial and economic conditions was unprecedented both in their scale and in the short time span in which they manifested.
In view of the uncertain economic environment and until the full effects of the crisis were ascertained in February 2009 the Board of Directors whilst re-affirming its decision to proceed with the expansion into Russia decided to limit the initial scope of operations until conditions stabilized.
Thus, the Project Team was tasked with securing the banking license, completing all work on the building and the banking system and completing all the various procedures and policies necessary to bring the Bank into operation.
All these tasks were carried out in a carefully co-ordinated and planned series of actions. Thus, by April 2009 the banking license was obtained. The completion of the building works was awarded on a turnkey basis to a Russian contracting firm which delivered the building ready for use in December 2009. During the same month the core banking system was also delivered and thus the Project Team was able to concentrate on getting the bank ready. This phase included preparation of a Business Plan recruitment of staff and completion of procedures and ancillary systems like internet banking.
Meanwhile signs that the worst of the financial crisis was over were beginning to be evidenced by the end of the first quarter of 2010. After careful consideration of developments the Board of Directors authorised in June 2010 the commencement of full operations by the Bank by the end of 2010.
The next few months were utilised to complete procedures and systems; hire and train staff and complete the injection of additional capital to the Bank. Thus, as planned, by the end of November the Bank was ready for operations. After a pilot run of one month the Bank formally opened its doors to prospective customers on January 11, 2011.