Central Asia Awards
Author: Chris Cockerill
Best domestic bank: International Bank of Azerbaijan
Best foreign bank: HSBC Bank Middle East
International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) is the largest bank in Azerbaijan. The banks assets account for $300 million out of the country's total banking assets of $650 million. IBA's excellent relationship with the National Bank of Azerbaijan and other government entities gives the bank a competitive advantage over its peers - the majority of state and government business is directed towards it. Last year the bank was awarded the mandate to act as agent for all government-guaranteed credit lines.
Its asset quality is stable since the loan portfolio is concentrated on the higher-profile, more stable Azeri companies. It is dominant in foreign currency operations in the country dealing with 85% of all transactions and is the only bank with a licence to issue credit cards. Its IT systems have been described by Thomson Bankwatch as some of the most advanced in the CIS and the bank continues to invest heavily in them.
HSBC Bank Middle East is the largest established foreign bank in Azerbaijan. However the Turkish group Koç has just received a banking licence, so HSBC's position as the premier foreign bank may soon be challenged.