President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kostin,
Traditionally, VTB has been primarily engaged in servicing foreign trade operations, and in this context, it has been considerably tied to clients working in this sphere, tied to foreign infrastructure. Of course, VTB probably found it harder to cope with difficulties, created for us by ill-wishers, as compared to other financial institutions. Nevertheless, your efforts and those of your team made it possible to overcome the main challenges.
What is the current situation of VTB?
VTB CEO Andrei Kostin: Mr President, since the fourth quarter of 2022, we are in the black and have been posting profits. We see positive dynamics in all spheres of our work.
We are actively creating a new payments and settlements infrastructure involving rubles and currencies of friendly states. We have the necessary expertise and infrastructure for this because we are present in major Asian countries, such as China and India, and we are present in the CIS countries. We are therefore working actively in this sphere.
I would like to thank you for your political support because these issues need to be resolved at a high political level, and we always feel this support. So, thank you very much.
Regarding anti-Russia sanctions, we have probably become somewhat immune because of them, and we have enhanced our sovereignty in this field.
Look at what is now happening in the United States. This is virtually the largest financial and banking crisis since 2008, and it is already spreading to Europe. This is what we have been talking about, that sanctions against Russia are a double-edged sword. In effect, by using sanctions against Russia, the West has demolished the global trade system and caused an inflation surge. Western attempts to resolve this problem by standard methods devalued bank assets, and we can see the result of this.
However, our banking sector is feeling quite safe. I do not think that there will be any problems, although we incurred certain losses last year when our property was simply taken away from us.
Vladimir Putin: Perhaps what you have said about raising the level of independence and sovereignty is rather timely, considering greater negative trends in the US banking system.
Andrei Kostin: I agree with you. We now have to learn to work in a new way. I believe that it is possible to considerably reshape the financial system in several years. Of course, I believe that it will look different.
Vladimir Putin: What is the current structure of the bank’s portfolio?
Andrei Kostin: Mr President, we no longer issue loans in Western currencies; it is impossible to take out such loans. We are expanding the ruble market, and we are starting to work with the yuan and other currencies. This process is going on, and I think, it is picking up pace. Today, rubles account for over 50 percent of payments and settlements with friendly countries. This is why I believe that this process will continue.
Vladimir Putin: I was talking about individuals and corporate clients.
Andrei Kostin: Of course, we are gradually increasing the share of private clients, and we are actively lending money to industry.
Vladimir Putin: All right.