Sberbank: Still A Kremlin Asset

What’s this?  Russia stealing market shares from international banks?  
Wall Street is watching as the Kremlin sets up a second investment bank in Russia, threatening to steal more market share from the biggest international banks.

This is taken from a Wall St Journal blog piece, which suggests that the growth of Sberbank will give the likes of Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse a serious rival to contend with in terms of Russia-based banking revenue.  Nothing’s being thieved, per se.  Sberbank’s takeover of Troika Dialog seems ordinary enough, and likely to profit: German Gref is ‘ambitious[ly]‘ anticipating that Troika could profit $200 million annually over the next three years. But something is afoot, says William Mauldin:
[…] investment banking isn’t the only sector the Kremlin and the companies it controls have dipped their hand into recently, despite intense rhetoric of late about privatization and reducing the state’s role in the economy. Last week, Mr. Putin presided over a plan to give a little-known wireless company, partly owned by the state, the lead role in building a nationwide fourth-generation wireless broadband network, leapfrogging the three major non-state companies that had controlled the mobile industry. With these precedents, Russia investors are left wondering which privately-owned industry is next.
And well they might: that ‘intense rhetoric about privatization‘ is already starting to give way: it was announced today that the Kremlin is going to pull back on plans to privatize its 7.6% tranche of Sberbank…