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Ozon awarded Russia's first universal bank licence in three years

Economy Mar 17, 2022 19:03
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view shows the pick-up point of the Ozon online retailer in Moscow, Russia March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina
 
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(Reuters) - Ozon said on Thursday that it had obtained a universal banking licence, the first Russia's central bank has issued in three years, as the Russian e-commerce firm looks to by-pass sanctions that threaten its ability to service debt.

"Ozon has expanded its fintech development opportunities, having received another banking licence, this time a universal one," Ozon said in a statement on Thursday.

One of Russia's largest e-commerce players, Ozon is working on a proposal to bondholders after a trading suspension of its American Depositary Shares triggered a delisting event on $750 million of unsecured convertible bonds.

Ozon, which spawned a flurry of initial public offerings by Russian companies after it listed on Nasdaq in late 2020, has been contesting sanctions which hit Ozon Bank, due to what Washington said were links to sanctioned lender Sovcombank.

It filed an appeal with the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) the day after Russia launched its "special military operation" in Ukraine, disputing links to Sovcombank and requesting its own bank be removed from the sanctions list.

Ozon acquired 100% of the share capital of Oney Bank, which it later renamed to Ozon Bank, from Sovcombank on May 26, 2021.

Interfax reported that Ozon now owns Ecom Bank, via its beneficiary, Internet-Logistics. Russian central bank filings showed that Eсom Bank was registered on March 11 and received a universal licence four days later. It has share capital of 3.6 billion roubles ($34.87 million).

Ozon said it was seeing huge demand for its financial services and was discussing credit assistance with Russian authorities to support its operations, such as maintaining stocks and ensuring timely delivery.

Interfax cited two sources as saying that Ozon had asked the Russian government for help refinancing its U.S. debt.

($1 = 103.2500 roubles)

Ozon awarded Russia's first universal bank licence in three years
 

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