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Bank of Georgia buys Belarus bank

By Christina Tashkevich
Wednesday, May 14
Bank of Georgia announced yesterday it bought a controlling stake in a Belarusian bank.

The bank said it paid USD 34.2 million for a 70 percent share of Belarusky Narodny Bank, with an option to buy the remaining shares in the next three years.

“This acquisition marks our entry into the Belarusian market and represents another step towards the implementation of our international expansion strategy,” said Bank of Georgia’s board chairman, Nikoloz Enukidze.

BNB had total assets of nearly USD 50 million at the end of last year, with its equity valued at roughly half that. The Minsk-based bank has four branches and is planning to expand this year.

Enukidze said the acquisition will make the Georgian bank one of the early international players in the “promising” Belarusian banking sector.

The Belarusian banking sector’s total assets grew almost 44 percent to USD 19.4 billion in 2007, according to the country’s central bank.

“The dynamic Belarusian economy, which in 2007 displayed real GDP growth of 7.8 percent and nominal GDP per capita of over USD 4 000, presents exciting opportunities in both corporate and retail banking sectors,” Enukidze said.

Bank of Georgia plans to develop BNB’s retail banking, as well as giving out loans to small- and medium-sized businesses.

Enukidze said Bank of Georgia is done snatching up foreign banks for the year, and will now focus on its recent Belarus and Ukrainian purchases.

Last October, Bank of Georgia bought Ukraine’s Universal Bank of Development and Partnership for close to USD 82 million.

Georgia’s central bank reports that as of April 1, net total assets of Georgian commercial banks grew 12.2 percent over the beginning of the year, an increase of GEL 877 million to a total of GEL 8 billion.

From January–March, commercial banks’ net profit was GEL 42.3 million, two-thirds higher than the same period of last year.