Russia discussing dividend hike at state-owned Sberbank - sources

MOSCOW, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Russian authorities are discussing raising the dividend paid out by Sberbank, the country’s largest lender, as part of a drive to get state companies to contribute more to the budget and offset the hit from low oil prices and Western sanctions.

The authorities are talking about increasing the proportion of Sberbank’s net profit paid out as dividends to 40 percent on its 2017 results, gradually rising to 50 percent in 2020, two sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

Sberbank paid out 20 percent and 25 percent of its net profit in dividends on its 2015 and 2016 results, respectively.

One of the sources said the idea was to gradually increase Sberbank’s payouts so as not to hit its capital adequacy ratios too hard.

“(A hike to) 50 percent from the beginning would be too harsh. The discussions are about (an increase to) 40, 45, 50 percent each year (2018-2020),” the source said, speaking on conditions of anonymity.

Another source also reported the discussions, but both said a final decision had yet to be taken.

Sberbank and Russia’s central bank, which controls the lender, did not immediately reply to requests for comment. (Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya and Elena Fabrichnaya; Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Mark Potter)