Moscow-based Inkombank, with $2 billion in assets, is planning to apply for a license to open a representative office in New York and issue up to $30 million in American depositary receipts.
Vladimir V. Vinogradov, president of the private Russian bank, said Inkombank is finalizing its application and will soon submit a request to the Federal Reserve Board and the New York State Banking Department.
Mr. Vinogradov also said that preliminary talks are under way with Merrill Lynch & Co. and Bankers Trust New York Corp. on an initial ADR issue. The bank would set aside shares in Russia that would be traded in ADR form in the United States but would not be used to increase the bank's existing $204 million in capital, he said.
Inkombank is also discussing a second issue of up to $40 million in ADRs that would be used to raise fresh capital.
Mr. Vinogradov said the bank hopes to use a U.S. office to develop relationships with existing and future corporate clients. The bank already has representative offices in Frankfurt, Geneva, and Vienna as well as a branch in Cyprus.
Inkombank has been steadily expanding its business relations with large U.S. corporate customers such as Pepsico and Delta Airlines. It has also established correspondent banking relationships with Bank of New York Co., Bankers Trust New York Corp., BankAmerica Corp., and Republic New York Corp.
Founded in 1988, Inkombank posted $43.7 million in net earnings last year and engages in everything from retail banking to securities trading.
Inkombank also issues Visa credit cards and will soon issue MasterCards as well. Mr. Vinogradov said he anticipated the bank will have some 70,000 cards circulating by the end of the year, compared with 18,500 now outstanding. He estimated that Inkombank accounts for roughly half the credit cards in circulation in Russia.
Booming demand for credit pushed Inkombank's assets up 50% last year. Around 80% of the lending Inkombank does is in hard currencies such as U.S. dollars.