OAO Sberbank undergoes structural changes to improve

By Marc Castro

Nov 12, 2013 08:15 PM EST

OAO Sberbank had laid out plans to cut 30,000 workers this year as well as close more than 3,600 branches in the next five years. The holder of nearly half of Russia's bank savings decided on the matter as part of its overall goal of boosting profitability as well as its loan growth projects.

The moves would help the largest lender in Europe double and even triple its profits and assets by 2016. This was confirmed with court documentation prior to a presentation  by its CEO Herman Gref. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been urging the Russia's top state-owned or controlled corporations to improve their service efficiencies through the lowering costs after the last six quarters of slowing economic growth in the world's biggest energy supplier. Sberbank, with its current population of 250,000 employees snd over 18,000 branches, is not planning any new acquisitions in the coming years, as confirmed by its CEO.

After publication of Gref's comments, Sberbank had gained by 2.4% to RUB104.20 at 6 pm in Moscow. The lender's shares had surged by nearly 12% for the year, surpassing the Micex Index of 1.7%.

Under Gref's watch, the bank has transformed itself. Last year, it held 46% of total deposits in the country as confirmed by data from the Deposit Insurance Agency. It had also diversified into investment banking and asset management as well as expanded through acquisitions in countries in Eastern Europe and Turkey.

In another move, Sberbank had acquiried Troika Dialog last January 2012. For USD1 billion, the bank had acquired Moscow's oldest brokerage. It also partnered with BNP Paribas SA to set up a consumer finance unit last year.

During the launch of the bank's website, Gref, who was Putin's former economy minister, said, "Sberbank is present in 22 countries. We have demonstrated that not only Russian commodity companies can be major participants in the world market."

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