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Three new banks to open in Georgia next year

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Thursday, December 27
The banking sector is one of the fastest growing segments of the Georgian economy. There are now 18 commercial banks in Georgia, according to the newspaper 24 Saati, and at least three more are expected to join the mix in 2008.

ProgressBank, founded by Georgian football star Kakha Kaladze, has already submitted its licensing application to the National Bank of Georgia.

In addition, a UAE investment group and a Kazakhstani bank are both planning to open banks in the country.

Britainís HSBC is also expected to open a Tbilisi branch, though a timeframe has not been finalized.

National Bank of Georgia data shows direct foreign investments in the banking sector totaling USD 115.1 million in the first three quarters of 2007, more than twice the total in the same period of 2006.

The yearís third quarter alone saw investments of USD 87.2 million.