VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Russia's top lender
Sberbank is on track to profitability and expects
positive results this year, CEO German Gref said on Wednesday,
as the Russian banking sector recovers from hefty first-half
Gref, who was speaking during an online press conference at
Russia's Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, declined to give
concrete forecasts on Sberbank.
He said Sberbank expected Russia's GDP to decline 4.5% in
At the forum, officials have been revising their forecasts
concerning the size of the economic hit from sanctions and other
restrictions this year.
Russia Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov said on Tuesday
the economic contraction this year would be 2.9%, shallower than
previously forecast, while No. 2 lender VTB now
envisages a 4% contraction.
Financial sessions in Vladivostok have featured long
discussions about the growing use of China's yuan in Russia's
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 that a natural consequence of this was
Moscow's closer cooperation and greater dependence on Beijing,
something he called the "development of cooperation".
"I don't think Russia will return to such a situation of the
dollar's influence on the domestic economy," Gref told
reporters, expecting other currencies, primarily the yuan, to
replace the dollar and euro in part.
Earlier in the day, VTB CEO Andrei Kostin said Russia's
banking sector likely no longer needed systemic capitalisation,
having withstood the most serious effects of Western sanctions
imposed against Russia in waves after Moscow sent thousands of
troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Gref said Sberbank, which was targeted with sanctions, did
not need capitalisation, but thanked the central bank for the
"extremely necessary" financial support it had extended earlier
Sberbank also plans to develop further in the e-commerce
sector, Gref said.
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Muralikumar