President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Andrei Leonidovich [Kostin]. As far as I know, your mortgage and consumer loans portfolio has increased markedly of late — an increase of up to seven times, I think.
Andrei Kostin: The country’s banking sector is developing dynamically in general at the moment, and Vneshtorgbank’s growth rate is 1.5 times higher again. We had asset growth of 54 percent last year, our loans portfolio increased by 80 percent and we had a profit of almost 10 billion roubles. We put particular emphasis on socially significant areas of the bank’s activity. This includes, above all, working with the population, mortgage loans and small business development.
Vladimir Putin: You had growth in this area of more than five billion roubles, I heard.
Andrei Kostin: Growth in this area is very rapid indeed because it is the kind of banking service most in demand today.
We plan to launch a large-scale new project very soon in the area of working with the population and small businesses. The project will begin on August 1 in 40 different regions. We have called it Vneshtorgbank-24. 24 – because we plan to offer the population the main kinds of banking services 24 hours a day. This includes the chance to pay bills, withdraw money from accounts and so on. This is the goal we have set.
Vladimir Putin: You and I and [President of Ukraine] Viktor Andreyevich Yushchenko recently opened a new branch [in Ukraine]. How is it doing?
Andrei Kostin: Work is moving ahead there. We have quite a lot of clients. The bank’s objective is to build up a large-scale network abroad. We now have three banks operating in CIS countries and another four working in Western European countries. We plan to add to this a number of banks operating abroad by the end of the year. In this way, by the end of the year, we will have ten banking institutions outside Russia and will be able to create quite a powerful international financial group under the name of Vneshtorgbank.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.