Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree giving Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo permission to sell or dispose of its assets in Russia, a document posted on a Russian government website showed on Friday.
Reuters exclusively reported in August that Italy's biggest bank was getting closer to securing approval from Moscow to transfer its Russian business to local management as Russia's stance on asset disposals shifts.
Intesa could not immediately be reached for comment.
The decree, which was dated Sept. 28, cited another decree signed in August 2022 by Putin, which gave him the power to issue special waivers for certain deals involving energy and finance assets to proceed.
The latest decree said Moscow was permitting transactions that would lead to the direct or indirect disposal of 100% of Intesa's shares.
Intesa serves corporate clients in Russia, where it had around 980 employees at the start of the Ukraine conflict across 28 branches. It stopped new financing to Russian clients and fresh investments in Russian assets when the conflict broke out.
Russia has steadily tightened exit requirements since Western companies started leaving soon after Moscow began what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine in February 2022. Executives say navigating the rules is becoming harder.
Since last year, Intesa has tried to sever ties with its local business but Western sanctions hitting potential buyers have made it difficult for European banks, including rival UniCredit and Austria's Raiffeisen Bank (RBI) , to exit Russia.
The green light for Intesa could pave the way for similar approvals for other lenders still entangled in Russia. (Writing by Maxim Rodionov and Alexander Marrow; Editing by Susan Fenton and Mark Potter)