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Raiffeisen net rises 77% on Ukraine & Russia lending

Raiffeisen International Bank AG, the biggest non-Russian lender in the former Soviet Union, said Q2 profit rose 77%, driven by lending to consumers in Ukraine and Russia. Net income rose to € 165 million ($212.7 million) from € 93 million a year ago, the Vienna-based lender said in an e-mail. That beat the € 134 million median profit forecast of eight analysts polled by Bloomberg. The bank forecast „at least” € 500 million in full-year profit. Raiffeisen has more than doubled its number of branches in eastern Europe over the past year to 2,750. In the last 12 months, the bank has paid $1 billion for Bank Aval to become the No. 1 bank in Ukraine and $550 million for Russia's Impexbank, to become that country's biggest non-domestic lender. Eastern Europe has „the biggest pent-up demand for financial products,” particularly in retail banking, said Chief Executive Herbert Stepic in the statement. The Austrian lender boosted its eastern European customer base by 11% in the quarter to 11 million, according to the statement. It forecast profit to rise to „at least” 20% annually until 2008 as it gains new customers. (Bloomberg)