Business daily quotes the results of the survey performed by the Gaidar Institute, indicating a moderate optimism among the largest Russian banks regarding the growth of lending in 2013. The survey included 52 top managers from the group of 100 largest Russian banks, including Sberbank and VTB. Although the corporate lending growth rate fell from 26 percent in 2011 to 12.7 percent in 2012, leading Russian bankers do not expect a reduction of demand for corporate loans in 2013.

Most of the respondents (55 percent) believe that the demand for corporate loans will grow, but only slightly, while 27 percent of the surveyed bankers believe that the corporate lending growth rate will remain the same. Only 9 percent of the respondents believe that the demand for corporate lending will decrease in 2013. Reduced forecasts are a consequence of lower GDP growth estimates for 2013 (approximately 3.5 percent).

Surveyed bankers stated that 60 percent of the borrowers use the loans to finance their current assets, and only 12 percent resort to borrowing in order to service and maintain their existing production facilities. One quarter of the borrowers use new loans to refinance the existing ones, while only 3 percent of the total corporate lending is used for investments into new production capacities.

Consumer lending increased by 39.4 percent in 2012, but only 17 percent of the surveyed top bankers believe that the growth will continue at a similar pace, while 62 percent believe that the growth will be moderate. However, none of the bankers expect a significant decrease in consumer lending. Respondents are similarly optimistic regarding lending to small and medium businesses – almost 2/3 of them believe that lending to SMEs will increase, albeit slowly, and another 18 percent believe that lending to SMEs will increase significantly.

As far as the credit portfolio quality is concerned, only 3 percent of the respondents stated that they expect significant worsening of their borrowers’ performance, while most of the bankers (38 percent) expect the quality of their portfolios to remain the same. When combined with 35 percent of the surveyed who believe that the loan portfolio quality will slightly improve, they form a majority with moderate expectations.