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Serbian banking thrives on return of confidence

Radoslav Jelasic, governor of the National Bank of Serbia, tells Nick Saywell about the challenges facing his country’s banking industry as levels of foreign ownership rise. The main issues now are transparency and supervision rather than solvency and liquidity.

Radoslav Jelasic,
National Bank of Serbia

Since you’ve become central bank governor there have been many changes in the banking industry especially in the past 12 months with the influx of many more foreign banks than before. How do you see the state of the banking industry in Serbia? Well the processes that were initiated in 2002, the debt for equity swaps with the Paris and London Clubs and the decision that the banks would be sold later, are materializing now in 2005 and 2006.

The state has already sold Novosadska Banka, Jubanka, Kontinental Banka and right now we are entering the final stage of selling Vojvodjanska Banka. As of today, already two-thirds of the banks are majority foreign owned and we are very proud of the fact that all of these foreign banks are well known. Also a lot of private owners have seen the possibility of cashing in a large amount of money from their ownership in private banks and also a way out from being scrutinized by the central bank because a lot of them have banks not as a main function but as a supporting function that they needed in the 1990s.

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