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Public investment bank seeks its niche

Jean Lemierre, president of the EBRD, discusses the bank's role in central and eastern Europe, where it is still struggling to define its place.

Jean Lemierre

Jean Lemierre, former secretary of the French Treasury, was appointed president of the EBRD last May, just as the institution approached its tenth anniversary and the most successful transition economies of central and eastern Europe finalized their applications for EU membership. Lemierre took the reins of an institution in no mood to celebrate. It is still suffering from financial losses and loss of confidence after the 1998 crisis in Russia, the country that alone accounts for 20% of the EBRD's investments.

Euromoney asked Lemierre about the role of the EBRD now. It is still struggling to define its place in the 26-country region in which is the largest single investor. With the brightest stars headed for the EU, the EBRD must concentrate its efforts in the poorer countries to the east. They certainly need help, but financeable private-sector projects are hard to find.

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