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MOSCOW, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Russia's second-largest bank VTB approved a new strategy for 2017-2019 on Wednesday, aiming for loan growth of at least 10 percent a year and a sharp rise in profits.
VTB is under Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict and has been hurt by an economic slump linked to lower oil prices, though its profits have recovered somewhat this year.
The lender is on track for 50 billion roubles ($817.4 million) of net profit this year and wants to achieve net profit of over 200 billion roubles by 2019.
It also wants to complete the merger of its VTB 24 retail arm with its other banking operations no later than in January 2018, which will result in cost savings, VTB says.
Its strategy is based on relatively optimistic forecasts for the Russian economy which assume growth will gradually recover to 2 percent-2.4 percent.
The Russian economy is expected to contract by around 0.5 percent this year following a decline of 3.7 percent in 2015.
VTB said in its new strategy it was aiming for return on equity - a measure of profitability - of around 13-14 percent. It reiterated that retail lending is a priority for the bank. ($1 = 61.1730 roubles) (Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Andrey Ostroukh)