Russian banks made record $31 bln in profit last year

2 minute read
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

MOSCOW, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Russian banks made a record 2.4 trillion roubles ($31 billion) of profit last year as an economic rebound revived loans growth and boosted interest in real estate assets, the central bank said on Friday.

Strong oil prices helped Russia's economy to grow by 4.5% last year, officials have said, after a 2.7% contraction the previous year because of low commodities prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, banking sector profits jumped by 50% from 1.6 trillion roubles in 2020, the central bank said. Corporate loans expanded by 11.7%, retail lending grew by 23% and the mortgage portfolio showed a more than 30% increase.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Demand for real estate in Russia has boomed since 2020, when the central bank tried to support the construction sector - and banks exposed - via state-backed mortgages during the pandemic.

The state began rolling those back last July and, though it raised the key interest rate seven times to 8.5% last year, the central bank said it sees no sign of the sector overheating.

This year, the regulator forecasts banking sector profit at over 2 trillion roubles but less than in 2021, said Alexander Danilov, director of the banking regulation and analytics department, as tight monetary policy puts the brakes on lending.

Yields on the government's rouble-denominated OFZ bonds spiked this month as tensions escalated between Russia and the West over Ukraine, but the central bank sees limited risk to the banking sector from an OFZ sell-off. Bond yields move inversely to prices.

Russian banks increased their OFZ holdings by 20% to 9.7 trillion roubles last year, out of nearly 16 trillion in total rouble bonds outstanding, the central bank said, as foreigners were reducing their exposure amid increased sanctions risks.

The central bank estimates that Russian banks will record 200 billion roubles in losses from the revaluation of OFZs in their portfolios, but the hit to the overall sector's capital would be offset by profits and strong liquidity buffers.

VTB (VTBR.MM), Russia's second-biggest bank, this week said that the recent sell-off of local assets should not have "a significant impact" on its capital adequacy ratios.

($1 = 77.8410 roubles)

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya; additional reporting by Alexander Marrow; Writing by Katya Golubkova Editing by David Goodman and Louise Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.