Sberbank's CEO says Russia should make banks bigger

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Russia should consolidate its banking sector rather than break up the larger banks or hinder their operations, the CEO of Russia's largest lender Sberbank SBER03.MM told Reuters on Wednesday.

“In Russia, we have a different theme, we need to make small banks bigger, not to break big banks into pieces,” German Gref said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

State-controlled Sberbank holds about a quarter of all Russian banking sector assets and half of all retail deposits.

But Gref said U.S. President Barack Obama’s plans to curb big banks were unlikely to have a major impact in Russia, which is still recovering from the worst economic crisis in a decade.

“I see no big impact on Russia. I cannot say that we are strongly linked to the U.S. financial sector,” he said.

Despite their size, Russia’s leading banks have not been very active on the global arena.

Gref, whose bank was one of the organizers of aluminum company UC RUSAL's 0486.HK initial public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange, said he was not disappointed about the firm's poor debut. UC RUSAL's shares are down 9 percent compared with the IPO price.

“It is a normal volatility,” Gref said.

Editing by Lin Noueihed