Russia’s VTB bank doubles profits in 2017

Russia’s second largest bank VTB on Monday said net profits more than doubled in 2017, on the back of growth in its retail activities and increased lending as the economy slowly recovers from recession. State-controlled VTB posted profits for the last year of 120.1 billion rubles (1.7 billion euros, $2.1 billion), an increase of 133 percent from 2016, according to a statement from the bank.

In the fourth quarter alone, net profit was 44.8 billion rubles (649 million euros, $801 million), up more than 150 percent year on year. “We expanded our retail lending on the back of Russia’s macro recovery, and our nationwide reach enabled us to grow retail loans and deposits faster than the industry average,” bank president Andrei Kostin said in a statement.

He said the bank was a “more streamlined” company following a merger with Bank of Moscow in 2016 and a reorganizing of the bank’s European operations in 2017. In 2014 the bank received 100 billion rubles in from Russia’s national welfare fund as part of a plan to recapitalize the banking system hit by a tumbling ruble and Western sanctions.

Russia’s central bank is still struggling to boost the economy as it slowly emerges from the longest recession of President Vladimir Putin’s rule triggered by low oil prices and sanctions over Ukraine.

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