The logo of French bank Societe Generale is seen outside a bank office in Nantes, France, February 4, 2022.
The logo of French bank Societe Generale is seen outside a bank office in Nantes, France, February 4, 2022. Reuters / STEPHANE MAHE

Societe Generale said it could cope if stripped of its business in Russia, saying it had more than 18 billion euros ($19.97 billion) of exposure, in one of the starkest indications yet by a global bank of the potential impact of fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Western banks.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has triggered a barrage of financial sanctions from the United States, Europe and Britain aimed at squeezing its economy, and Western companies have moved to sell off assets in Russia.

"The group has more than enough buffer to absorb the consequences of a potential extreme scenario, in which the Group would be stripped of property rights to its banking assets in Russia," the bank said on Thursday.

Societe Generale's comments show how banks and other financial companies risk retaliation for these moves, including the possibility Russia could simply seize their assets in the country.

The French bank said its exposure consisted of 15.4 billion euros within its Russian business SG Russia, and 3.2 billion euros outside Russia.

The bank "continues a detailed monitoring of the situation in Ukraine and Russia", it said.

"Societe Generale complies rigorously with legislation in force and diligently applies all necessary measures to strictly observe international sanctions", the bank added.

Shares in Societe General, one of Europe's most active banks in Russia, have fallen sharply after the Ukraine war triggered massive international sanctions.

($1 = 0.9013 euros)