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Edinburgh University has more than £1m invested in sanctioned Russian bank

As of January, the university has £1,109,251 worth of Sberbank shares, held via Edinburgh-based fund managers Baillie Gifford.

03 March 2022

The University of Edinburgh has shares worth more than £1 million in a bank sanctioned after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has been revealed.

As of January this year, records show the university has £1,109,251 in Sberbank stock, held via fund manager Baillie Gifford, which is based in the Scottish capital.

The lender, Russia’s largest bank, has already caused tension at Holyrood in the last week as the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme has holdings worth about £300,000, with MSPs calling for the investments to be removed.

With almost four times that amount, the university is also facing calls to divest after Vladimir Putin’s invasion, and a spokesman said it will now review its investments.

As part of Tuesday’s sanctions, Sberbank, which accounts for 35% of the financial sector, has been prohibited from clearing sterling payments through the UK’s financial system.

The US Treasury has also blocked the bank’s ability to process transactions in US dollars.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton joined the call for Edinburgh University to pull out of its investment with the Russian bank.

“Scotland needs to play its part in putting the squeeze on Vladimir Putin and his regime, and that means using the financial leverage we have,” he said.

“It is important to send a message that Putin’s behaviour in Ukraine will not be tolerated or supported.”

A spokesman for the university said: “In view of recent events and the sanctions that the UK has implemented against the Russian state, we are reviewing our collaborations to take account of any potential security risks.

“We are reviewing the implications for our endowment portfolio, a small proportion of which includes indirect investments in Russian-related assets.

“Where these are held in pooled funds, we are engaging with fund managers as part of our review.”

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