Sberbank set for record year

City A.M. Reporter
SBERBANK, Russia’s biggest lender, yesterday beat forecasts for third-quarter net profit, helped by a bigger loan portfolio and lower provisions, putting it on course for a record year.

“We expect fourth-quarter results to be no worse than in the third quarter,” chief financial officer Anton Karamzin said on a conference call yesterday, adding full-year net profit was likely to be at least 150bn roubles (£3.06bn).

State-controlled VTB last week posted 13.7bn roubles net profit for the third quarter, and said it was hoping to earn 50-60bn roubles for the full-year.

“Sberbank’s results... beat market expectations thanks to significant growth in the loan portfolio,” Bank of Moscow analysts said in a research note after the bank released a ten-fold increase in profits.

Sberbank chief executive German Gref said last week Sberbank could decide on whether to expand into investment banking early in 2011. Sources say that Sberbank has held informal talks with investment banks Troika Dialog and Renaissance Capital about buying a stake.

The bank is eyeing some of the business enjoyed by its main rival VTB, which dominates the Moscow deal-making scene – working on almost all major IPOs and Russia’s $3bn Eurobond issue.

Karamzin denied the bank had identified specific targets for a possible acquisition but VTB analyst Mikhail Shlemov said that funds for a deal could be found from a cut in bad loan provisions, likely to fall significantly in 2011.

Sberbank’s loan portfolio grew by 7.7 per cent for the first nine months of 2010, the bank said. Corporate loans rose by 7.9 per cent while retail credits were up by seven per cent.