UPDATE 1-Raiffeisen Bank plans dividend after beating profit forecast

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Feb 5 (Reuters) - Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International AG reported better than expected quarterly profit on Friday and plans to pay a 2020 dividend of 0.48 euros ($0.5742) per share, saying that lower costs partially offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on core revenue.

The European Central Bank (ECB) said in December that banks could pay out part of their 2019-20 profits to shareholders if they have enough capital, easing a blanket ban on dividends and buybacks set during the first wave of the coronavirus crisis.

Raiffeisen, which does business across central and eastern Europe, said it would propose the dividend distribution at its annual general meeting on April 22 and could consider an additional dividend once the ECB lifts its recommendation.

Fourth-quarter consolidated profit came in at 205 million euros, up almost 50% on a company copiled analyst consensus.

The bank said that lower costs and an improved non-performing loans ratio helped to offset the impact of the crisis on core revenue that came in slightly below estimates. ($1 = 0.8359 euros) (Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska in Gdansk Editing by David Goodman )