Sberbank Sees 8.7% Jump in Deposits on Regulator's Purge

OAO Sberbank saw a jump in consumer deposits last month as Russia’s largest lender benefited from the central bank’s campaign to clean up the financial system.

Deposits increased 8.7 percent to 8.04 trillion rubles ($241 billion) at Jan. 1 from 7.4 trillion rubles at the start of December, according to statements on Sberbank’s website. Deposits rose 21 percent from the year-earlier period.

The central bank has revoked about 30 banking licenses since July 1 when Elvira Nabiullina succeeded Sergey Ignatiev as governor, compared with three in the first half of the year. Nabiullina is striving to tighten regulation of banks and curtail a net capital outflow that was forecast at about $55 billion last year. The campaign is driving deposits to state-controlled Sberbank, VTB Group and Gazprombank, according to Natalia Berezina, banking analyst at UralSib Financial Corp. in Moscow.

“The prime reason for Sberbank’s jump in deposits has been a flight to safety and it was most pronounced in December,” Berezina said by phone today. “This is set to continue as the central bank looks set to continue to revoke licenses of more marginal lenders.”

The regulator canceled the licenses of AKB Novokuznetsk Municipal Bank OAO last week, saying the Siberian lender made high-risk loans and allowed its owners to borrow from the company. Master-Bank, Russia’s 41st largest lender by assets, had its license revoked in November for money-laundering violations.

Sberbank’s shares increased 1.1 percent to 100.32 rubles at 3.25 p.m. in Moscow, valuing the company at about $65 billion. The 50-stock Micex index added 0.7 percent.

Net profit for 2013, under Russian accounting standards, rose 13 percent to 392.6 billion rubles from the year earlier. Last year’s results exclude events after the reporting period, while 2012 results include them.

Net interest income, the difference between what a bank earns from lending and what it pays on deposits, advanced 17 percent to 721 billion rubles. The provision charge for potential bad loans surged more than threefold to 97.3 billion rubles.

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