2 Jun 2010 13:27


MOSCOW. June 2 (Interfax) - A reduction in the state's stake in VTB , Russia's second largest bank, is not a question for 2010, Deputy CEO Herbert Moos told journalists.

"It would be reasonable for the state to attract investors and reduce its stake. But I don't think that's a question for this year," Moos said.

He recalled that the state paid 5 kopecks per share last year in the course of a capital injection for the bank. VTB shares are now quoted at 7 kopecks. "That is, the state has already made a profit, although for now it's a paper one," Moos said.

Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Savatyugin said in mid-February that the government was unlikely to sell its stake in VTB. "We will discuss it this year, but are unlikely to sell," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said in late January at the World Economic Forum in Davos that it was too soon for the state to divest its holdings in the big state banks, although that would be done in future.

The state currently owns 85.5% of VTB shares.

Meanwhile, VTB plans to continue to reduce loan provisioning in 2010, he said.

It was reported earlier that VTB reserved 15.5 billion rubles in the first quarter of 2010, down from 28.3 billion rubles in the fourth quarter of 2009.

VTB does not expect the net interest margin to fall below 4.6% in 2010, he said.

The net interest margin under IFRS increased to 5.2% in the first quarter from 4.1% in the first quarter of 2009.

The bank has no plans for a share buyback, Moos said.

"We do not plan a share buyback, since that signals a reduction in capital. We need capital for growth," he said.

The bank forecasts return on capital to equal 15%-20% by 2013, Moos said.

It was reported earlier that the VTB supervisory board approved the growth strategy to 2013 in late May. It calls for raising the value of shares to 15 kopecks by the end of 2013.

"We see ourselves as a growing concern that needs capital for growth. I believe that shareholders will be glad that bank capitalization will increase," Moos said.

The share buyback issue has arisen repeatedly since the "people's IPO" in 2007. Members of the public that bought shares at that time want compensation for the subsequent collapse in share prices in 2008.

VTB chief Andrei Kostin said last spring the bank would pay compensation, in order to maintain "an appropriate public image." The supervisory board ultimately rejected the idea, but not before examining the idea of a buyback.

As for the IFRS net profit VTB expects in the second quarter, Moos recalled that VTB posted a record quarterly profit in the first quarter of 2010 - 15.3 billion rubles compared with a net loss of 20.5 billion rubles in the first quarter of 2009. However, he made no forecast for the second quarter, saying only that the bank expects profit for the full year to total about 50 billion rubles.

"I hope we are able to achieve a profit of 50 billion rubles. That is a fairly ambitious target, and it might also be an all-time record for the bank," he said.

VTB targets growth in the loan portfolio equal to 15% in 2010. So far that forecast has not been reviewed, although it might be in the second half of the year. However, VTB is not "chasing after a result," he said. "Our focus is on efficiency. Our growth [in the loan portfolio] will not necessarily be comparable with the growth for the system," he said.

It was reported earlier that the Central Bank expects the loan portfolios in the Russian banking system to increase 15% this year.

VTB forecasts that it will only have to write off an insignificant number of overdue loans in 2010.