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VIENNA, May 17 (Reuters) - Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International's first-quarter net profit rose more than expected as its operating income increased and write-downs shrank, it said, citing improving economic conditions in many of its markets.
The bank, which operates across eastern Europe, said on Wednesday net profit in the three months through March almost doubled to 220 million euros ($244 million) from 111 million euros a year earlier, beating an average estimate of 151 million euros in a Reuters poll of analysts.
"We are very satisfied with the start into the financial year 2017. We see a very positive economic development in almost all our markets and want to make use of this development for selective growth," RBI Chief Executive Johann Strobl said.
Net interest income - the difference between interest earned and paid out - rose by 35 million euros to 796 million euros, helped by currency increases including a 29 percent year-on-year rise in the Russian rouble. Operating income rose by 104 million euros to 1.3 billion euros.
Net provisioning for impairment losses shrank by 25 million euros to 80 million euros, with the biggest decrease coming from Russia, where higher provisions were made a year earlier for items including "large individual cases in the corporate customer business".
The bank's fully loaded common equity tier 1 ratio, a measure of financial strength, dipped to 12.2 percent at the end of the first quarter, not far below its medium-term target of 13 percent. It kept its outlook unchanged. ($1 = 0.9007 euros) (Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)