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Azeri banking: The foreign factor

If Azerbaijan lacks foreign banks, it also lacks foreign bankers. Yet a pair of outsiders from very different backgrounds have ended up running two of Azerbaijan’s leading banks.

Emre Timurkan, the Turkish chief executive of AFB Bank, is a career investment banker who until the middle of last year was head of Citibank’s coverage of Turkey, Central Asia and the Caucasus based in Canary Wharf. He had been coming to Azerbaijan since 2006 and was hugely impressed by both the Azeri culture and the potential of the country. In early 2009 he was approached by Gilan Holding, one of the biggest conglomerates in Azerbaijan, to become the head of its banking subsidiary and on June 1 he started work as CEO.

Andrew Pospielovsky is a British ex-academic who taught Russian economics and politics at the University of London. In the late 1990s, commerce came calling – he moved to a research house called Hilfer, where he produced analysis on eastern European banks. He then became an independent consultant on banking systems in former communist states, helping them develop commercial banking businesses. His clients included many of the multilaterals that are now shareholders of AccessBank, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank, as well as micro credit investment firm LFS, which he joined in 2006 to become general manager of Access Bank.

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