* Asset integration priority in next three years
* Bank not in a "buying" mood
By Dmitry Zhdannikov
DAVOS, Jan 24 Russia's largest lender Sberbank
will focus on integrating previous buys and enhancing
the bank's existing products in the next three years, rather
than on new acquisitions, Chief Executive German Gref said on
The bank, formed in Tsarist Russia in the first half of the
19th Century as a people's saving institution, last year
completed a $1 billion takeover of brokerage Troika Dialog to
expand its product range.
It is now the largest eastern European bank.
Gref, in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic
Forum, said last year's buys completed a "maximum acquisition
"In the next three years, we're faced with the task of an
effective integration," Gref told Reuters. "We have a huge
amount of assets that need to be digested."
Sberbank, headed by former economy minister Gref since late
2007, has been gradually transformed into a global player by
snapping up foreign assets, such as the eastern European arm of
Austria's Oesterreichische Volksbanken (OeVAG), VBI
and Turkey's Denizbank.
Gref said late last year he sees the bank's profits at $13
billion this year.
A key challenge for the bank, the 48-year-old lawyer said,
is to keep its return-on-equity ratio at over 20 percent, after
it reached 25 percent last year.
"We're too big of a bank for Russia," he said. "We cannot
grow here strongly: I do not think it is good for the country
and the company."
But he added that the bank will exercise a selective
attitude towards future acquisitions. "We're not in a mood to
buy everything that's for sale," he said.