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Georgia

BEST BANK
Bank of Georgia

Just over a year ago, Bank of Georgia, the largest bank in Georgia, was having substantial credit problems, thanks to the loose credit policies of its management. The shareholders in the bank, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and German development bank DEG, fired the top management and hired Lado Gurgenidze, a former managing director of corporate finance at ABN Amro.

Gurgenidze was hired to clean up the bank and prepare it for a sale. He set about refocusing the bank on the retail business and developing new products to offer customers, while also making acquisitions, including Tbilisi Universal Bank, which it bought for about $6 million. The bank rapidly attracted the interest of international investors, and its share price (the bank is the only stock listed on the Tbilisi Stock Exchange) rose from GeL2 to over GeL6 over six months, as regional investors such as Firebird Management and East Capital bought into the stock. This was the first time that anyone has made any money on the Tbilisi Stock Exchange. The bank is now readying itself for a listing on London junior market AIM.

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