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Capital Markets

What next for the EBRD?

The EBRD has done such a good job in central and eastern Europe, opening up market access and catalyzing transformation of financial systems, that it now may no longer be needed. It must look once again to more troubled economies farther east to renew its mission. Julian Evans reports.

Jean Lemierre:  president of the EBRD says its fundamental principles are not contradictory.

After making mistakes early in its life – think marble floors in its London HQ and losses in Russia – the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has forged a role for itself as one of the most important market participants in the central and eastern European region. It is the largest CEE private-equity investor, is involved in the biggest deals, and is the most active and most prominent multilateral. Indeed, the European Investment Bank, which is far larger than the EBRD and is a shareholder in it, is quietly envious of the amount of publicity the younger institution gets.

Its distinct culture combines the dynamism and decent salaries of the private sector with the idealism of, say, the Department for International Development. This culture is a product of the EBRD's unique mandate, the brain-child of its creator, French philosopher Jacques Attali. It is a public-sector institution dedicated to promoting private-sector activity.

Today, 12 years after it was set up, the bank faces two key challenges.

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