BankAmerica, Chase Sit Tight in Moscow

LONDON - Chase Manhattan Corp. and BankAmerica Corp., the only U.S. banks with offices in Moscow, are keeping a low profile in the wake of the overthrow of Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Chase Manhattan representative John Minnerman declined to comment in a telephone interview Tuesday, saying: "I am sure that you can imagine the reasons why."

He added that he hoped to "try to get back to the U.S. in the near future."

|Tanks Are on the Street'

At Bank of America's Moscow office, an official who declined to be identified said it looked "bad" in the Soviet capital.

"Tanks are on the street with many, many people holding demonstrations," the official said, speaking by telephone.

Asked if American banks foresaw continuing business opportunities, the official said: "We simply don't know now that things have changed."

Chase opened its Moscow office in 1973, and BankAmerica and Citicorp followed suit a year later, according to Mr. Minnerman. He said the offices were established to help foster trade and business links between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Citicorp closed its Moscow office in 1980, Mr. Minnerman said.

In London, a Chase spokesman said that the bank is monitoring the situation "very closely" but has no plans to close the office. The spokesman described the bank's loan exposure to the Soviet Union as "minimal."

A BankAmerica spokesman said the company was taking a "wait and see" position, and has no plans to withdraw from Moscow. The company has no direct loan exposure to the Soviet Union, the spokesman said.

IBCA Ltd., a British credit rating agency has calculated total exposure of the U.S. banking system to the Soviets as around $500 million, one of the lowest figures among banking industries in the major industrial nations.

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