French banking giant BNP Paribas is to end most of its retail business in Russia to concentrate on the consumer credit sector through a new partnership with Russian lender Sberbank, a BNP spokesman said on Monday.
"BNP Paribas has changed its development priorities," spokesman Dmitry Borschevsky said.
"We are in active negotiations with Sberbank for the creation of a partnership in the on-site consumer credit sector," he said.
In June, the two companies announced a partnership through a subsidiary of BNP Paribas called Cetelem. The French bank's retail activity in Russia will be "adapted" to the new project, Borschevsky said.
Retail clients of BNP Paribas will be asked to transfer their business to other lenders, he said.
Several foreign banks have pulled out of Russia in recent months, discouraged by a saturated retail market and a difficult business environement for foreign investors.
In April, HSBC announced its pull-out from Russia a few weeks after Barclays closed its business. Swedbank, KBC, Morgan Stanley and Spain's Santander have all either left or are leaving Russia in the coming months.