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Russia’s VTB Capital tempers talk of a retreat from post-Brexit London

It is "definitely very early to say" what the implications of Brexit will be on the financial industry and on London, VTB Capital Global CEO Alexei Yakovitsky told CNBC Wednesday, in a softening of rhetoric following recent reports the Russian bank was considering moving its investment banking headquarters away from the U.K. capital.

Speaking to CNBC from VTB Capital's Russia Calling conference in Moscow, Yakovitsky highlighted the city's appeal from a business perspective, saying "London is important because there's human capital, there are clients, there are investors and this is really the center, or one of the global centers, of international finance."

"If this changes, we will clearly evolve together with the market, but at this stage there is no sign that this is happening," he added.

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A Financial Times report on Tuesday cited VTB Bank Deputy Chairman and Chief Financial Officer, Herbert Moos, as saying the board was considering relocating its European headquarters to an alternative hub, such as Frankfurt, Paris or Vienna. VTB Capital is the investment banking arm of majority state-owned VTB Bank.

However, according to the VTB Capital Group CEO, it is actually the necessity of maintaining operations in all of these continental locations that is coming under clear scrutiny.

"Within the broader VTB context we do have European presence in Germany, Austria, France, in continental Europe," he said.

"This is where we are seriously considering whether we do need three European banks pretty much within the same regulatory environment and you would agree that it probably does make sense to potentially decrease the number of licenses," he explained.

Yakovitsky sought to emphasize the continued draw of the U.K. capital as a business hub, saying, "When it comes to London, it does remain a very important center of our investment banking activity both in terms of selling Russian risk to international investors and in terms of doing some international business in selected jurisdictions."

Nonetheless, he did acknowledge the situation remains in flux, depending on how the process unfolds as well as the actions of other banking peers.

"Just like everyone else, we are assessing what the potential outcomes are," he said.

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Despite saying the bank's continental licenses are under review, Yakovitsky also highlighted new business opportunities in the region,saying the retreat of local banks was throwing up opportunities for others to garner business market share within Europe.

"There is a big void developing which will be filled, as any void, by banks like us, emerging markets banks and some of the global banks that are still standing," he said.

Similarly, Yakovitsky claimed the retreat of foreign banks from Russia was also providing space for the firm within its home country, with favorable consequences feeding right through to the bottom line.

"European competitors and to some extent our American competitors have been decreasing their presence … So we have been able to offset a somewhat shrinking pie with more market share, less competition and therefore more pricing power," he said.

"The impact of market share gain is not over yet," he prophesized, sounding a bullish tone for the period ahead.

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