Russia’s largest lender Sberbank on track to profitability, says CEO

The logo is displayed at an office of Sberbank in Saint Petersburg, Russia, April 19, 2022. REUTERS/REUTERS PHOTOGRAPHER

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VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Russia’s main lender Sberbank (SBER.MM) is on track to reach profitability and expects positive results this year, chief executive German Gref said on Wednesday, as the russian banking sector is recovering from the heavy losses of the first semester .

Gref, who was speaking at an online press conference at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, declined to give a concrete forecast on Sberbank.

He said Sberbank expected Russia’s GDP to decline by 4.5% in 2022.

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At the forum, officials revised their forecast for the extent of the economic hit from sanctions and other restrictions this year.

Russian Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov said on Tuesday that the economic contraction this year will be 2.9%, less deep than expected, while second-tier lender VTB (VTBR.MM) is now eyeing a contraction of 4% . Read more

The financial sessions in Vladivostok gave rise to long discussions about the growing use of the Chinese yuan in the Russian financial system. Sberbank has already started lending in yuan and VTB plans to do so later this year.

Gref said Russia had fallen out with its traditional partner, Europe, and a natural consequence of that was closer cooperation from Moscow and greater dependence on Beijing, which he called it “cooperative development”.

“I don’t think Russia will return to such a situation of the dollar influencing the national economy,” Gref told reporters, expecting other currencies, mainly the yuan, to partly replace the yuan. dollar and euro.

Earlier today, VTB CEO Andrei Kostin said Russia’s banking sector probably no longer needed systemic capitalization, having withstood the worst effects of Western sanctions imposed on Russia in waves. after Moscow sent thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24.

Gref said Sberbank, which was targeted by sanctions, did not need capitalization, but thanked the central bank for the “extremely needed” financial support it provided earlier this year.

Sberbank also plans to expand further into the e-commerce sector, Gref said.

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Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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