* Sberbank’s Kazakh unit eyes expansion on local market
* Growth plans mapped out as Kazakhstan recovers from crisis
By Olga Orininskaya
ALMATY, April 26 (Reuters) - Sberbank’s SBER03.MM Kazak unit aims to grow net income this year by carving a larger niche in the local market and together with its Russian parent plans to boost investment in the country to almost $1 billion.
“We should make (a net profit of) no less than 3 billion tenge ($21 million) by the end of this year,” Oleg Smirnov, chief executive of Sberbank’s Kazakh unit, told journalists on Tuesday.
Sberbank and its Russian-based parent company plan to more than triple their investment in Kazakhstan this year from $300 million in 2010. “By the end of this year we plan to approach the figure of $1 billion in investment in Kazakhstan,” Smirnov said. “The Kazakh unit will contribute 30 percent and Sberbank of Russia another 70 percent.”
“We have five large-scale projects with a number of large companies,” he said, without elaborating.
Sberbank, which ranks ninth among Kazakhstan’s 39 banks in terms of assets, made a net profit of 2.6 billion tenge last year, up from 2.2 billion tenge in 2009.
State-controlled Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, founded its Kazakhstan unit in 2006. It aims to increase its market share to 5 percent in 2015 from 2 percent in 2010.
As of the end of 2010, the bank’s assets grew to 283.2 billion tenge from 219.6 billion tenge at the end of 2009.
Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest economy, is recovering after the global financial crisis, benefiting from high world prices for its oil, metals and grain.
Economy Minister Kairat Kelimbetov said on Tuesday that Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product might expand by 7 percent this year from the original official forecast of 4-5 percent. GDP grew by 7 percent in 2010 after a 1.2-percent rise in 2009.
Smirnov forecast that the bank’s credit portfolio would grow “by no less than 40 percent” this year. Last year the credit portfolio of Sberbank’s Kazakh unit grew to 168.3 billion tenge from 91.8 billion tenge in 2009.
Smirnov said Sberbank plans to launch subordinated bonds on Kazakhstan’s internal market in the second half of this year.
“I believe it will be worth no less than 10 billion (tenge). That’s for sure,” he said, adding that the final amount could actually be at least two times larger.
Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Jane Merriman