Investors brace as banks weigh Russia exits

Source: Vladimir Arndt / iStock via Getty Images

By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

(David Callaway is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Callaway Climate Insights. He is the former president of the World Editors Forum, Editor-in-Chief of USA Today and MarketWatch, and CEO of TheStreet Inc.)

As energy companies worldwide pulled out of Russia last week and governments argued about whether to stop buying Russian oil, one constituency we didn’t hear much from was the banks and asset managers.

That’s because they were furiously huddled together in boardrooms around the world trying to figure out their exposure and whether they can, or should, pull out of their Russian stock holdings, bank loans, private equity commitments and venture capital deals. This week we should expect to start hearing from some of them, and with that the Wall Street guessing game about who is the most exposed.

Unlike with the collapse of Lehman Brothers 14 years ago, most Western financial companies have limited exposure to Russia. It’s a small, emerging market and unless you’re in energy or commodities, assets are likely in the single percentages. But that still adds up to hundreds of billions of dollars, so the destruction of wealth set to be announced will be very real. . . .

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