MOSCOW, June 4 (Reuters) – Russia’s biggest lender Sberbank (SBER03.MM) plans to keep dividends at 10 percent of net profit in coming years, its chief executive said on Friday, after its biggest rival VTB (VTBR.MM) promised a higher payout.
“In the near future we will stick to this level of 10 percent of net,” German Gref told the shareholders’ annual general meeting.
VTB, Russia’s second biggest bank, said it would revise its dividend policy to offer a payout of over 10 percent. [ID:nLDE64Q0JI]
“You suffered less than the shareholders of other banks. Some, I will not say who, are making losses, and not profits … If there are no profits, there are no dividends,” Gref said, after some shareholders complained that other lenders were directing more of their net to dividends.
The meeting approved 2009 dividends of 0.08 roubles per ordinary share and 0.45 rouble per preferred share on 2009 results, totalling 10 percent of earnings. [ID:nLDE62I0CP]
VTB’s 2009 payout is expected to equal some 25 percent of its Russian Accounting Standards net, but comes in at a meagre 0.00058 roubles per ordinary share after a surge in provisions and bad loans in the recessionary year. [ID:nWLB2474]
Gref also said the Russian state would eventually reduce its holding in Sberbank, but gave no time frame.
“We are waiting for the stabilisation of the market. We will definitely do it, but I cannot say when,” he said.
Russia’s central bank holds 57.6 percent in Sberbank.
Unlike in some previous years, there were few tough questions for Gref at the meeting, and the mood was calm.
But the shareholders, who include ordinary Russians who took advantage of a privatisation drive following the collapse of the Soviet Union, were not entirely without complaints.
“Gref has such a salary, but half an hour before the start of the meeting there are already no pies left,” one of the shareholders said. (Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Toni Vorobyova)