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Russian business can work with sanctions: RenCap CEO

Russian businesses facing the impact of a new, harsher round of sanctions at home and from abroad can adapt to cope, according to the chief executive of Renaissance Capital (RenCap), the Russian investment bank.

There have been increasing jitters about the expected ramping up of sanctions from both the West and within Russia, and the likely effect on the Russian economy, this week. The Micex, Russia's main stock market index, fell to a three-month low on Wednesday over concerns about the impact of sanctions from the Western powers, over Russia's actions in Ukraine.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin announced new sanctions targeting food imports from the U.S., European Union, Japan and Australia on Wednesday night.

"In reality the Russian economy, is functioning," Igor Vayn, chief executive of RenCap, told CNBC. He said some of the descriptions of Russia's economic slowdown are "politically motivated."

"While under that pressure (from sanctions) we'll be able to come up with new initiatives," he argued.


He said that Russian restaurants, for example, would re-shape their menus and pricing in response to the food sanctions.

"Now that's a very, very small example showing businesses thinking how to adjust to that reality and how to maintain their businesses and grow it in a different way. And that's happening with the larger organizations as well," Vayn said.

He was also optimistic about new Russian economic links with China and Iran. Putin has recently agreed an oil-for-food deal with the Middle Eastern recovering pariah state, and a headline-grabbing $400 billion deal to supply gas to China.


Vayn maintained that the government is "listening" to Russian business.

Russia's central bank withdrew one of RenCap's three brokerage licenses Wednesday – but the bank said in a statement that this was "on the firm's own initiative" and a technicality.

"We are navigating through the challenging times of the Ukrainian conflict now, through the sanctions and the way we do it is by turning our organization, with Russian roots, into a truly international organization, which is focused on emerging markets and frontier markets." Vayn told CNBC.

- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle

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