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Russia's biggest bank upbeat on 2016

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Moscow (AFP)

Russia's largest lender Sberbank on Thursday announced it almost tripled its profits in the second quarter and predicted further stabilisation of the economy this year despite credit growth slowing.

The majority state-controlled bank made a net profit of 145.4 billion rubles ($2.23 billion, 1.98 billion euros) in the second quarter, up 166.3 percent on the same period last year.

Its total revenues were up 31 percent to 442.8 billion rubles.

CEO German Gref said the results came on the back of "some signs of stabilisation, such as the oil prices rising and the ruble strengthening", as well as expectations of a return to positive GDP growth in the second half of the year.

He said the bank sees "the stabilisation continuing" and aims to "maintain strong profitability for the full year 2016 and beyond."

Russia has been battered by the longest recession to hit the country during President Vladimir Putin's more than 16 years at the helm caused by low oil prices and Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

The second quarter of 2015 was particularly difficult for the financial sector in Russia as the country entered a monetary crisis, as well as an economic one.

Sberbank announced its income from loans was up 49 percent while income from bank charges grew 18 percent and its provision for bad loans decreased 18 percent.

Gref said however that "credit growth in Russia has slowed down from previous years and we don't see this accelerating in the current environment of decreasing inflation and high rates."

Sberbank's net loans also decreased by three percent in the second quarter.

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