Russia’s top lender Sberbank posted a 17 per cent rise in profits for January-February under Russian accounting rules and compared with the same months last year, as rising loans to companies and consumers boosted its interest income. The state-controlled bank said on Wednesday net profit for the two months rose to 61.7 billion roubles ($2 billion) under Russian Accounting Standards (RAS). RAS results are viewed as an indicator of performance under the more widely-recognised International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). “Sberbank’s results give the first glimpse of the sector’s strong performance in February, though we believe it once again has left most other names behind in terms of lending growth and profitability,” Uralsib said in a note. Sberbank’s shares were down 0.3 per cent to 97 roubles by 1050 GMT, within a slightly firmer MICEX index. Net interest income rose 28.8 per cent in the two months year-on-year. Sberbank’s corporate loan book grew 1.5 per cent in February, with retail loans up 3.3 per cent. The growing loan book prompted the lender to raise provisions for bad loans to 9.4 billion roubles in the two months from 4 billion roubles for the same period last year.