April 17, 2018 / 12:13 PM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 1-Russia's Sberbank plans to double dividend payout

(Adds detail, market reaction)

MOSCOW, April 17 (Reuters) - Russia’s biggest bank Sberbank plans to double its dividends on its 2017 financial results to 271 billion roubles ($4.41 billion), German Gref, the bank’s CEO, said on Tuesday.

Sberbank’s board will recommend paying out 36.2 percent of its 2017 net profit in dividends, which means shareholders will receive 12 roubles per share, Gref said.

A year ago, Sberbank paid a dividend or 6 roubles per share.

Sberbank’s shares surged following the news, rising 6.5 percent to 204.6 roubles per share and outperforming the benchmark MOEX stock index that was up 1.6 percent.

Shares in Sberbank and rival VTB fell sharply last week in response to a new round of U.S. sanctions targeting some of Russia’s biggest businessmen.

But Sberbank’s chief financial officer Alexander Morozov said at the time the bank’s exposure to companies hit by the U.S. sanctions was not significant.

Gref told reporters on Tuesday Sberbank had had no problems with servicing debt of Rusal, Russia’s aluminium producer hit by the latest round of U.S. sanctions.

Rusal has not asked Sberbank for help and is expected to carry out first payments on its debt to Sberbank in the summer, Gref said.

Gref said Sberbank was studying the situation with Rusal, which could take some time, but was not in any discussions to pass on Rusal’s outstanding loan.

Rusal shares were up 7.8 percent at 21.38 roubles, trading some 38 percent below levels seen before the U.S. imposed new sanctions on April 6. ($1 = 61.5120 roubles) (Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya and Andrey Ostroukh. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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