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Infrastructure financing: Eurasian Development Bank broadens strategy

The Eurasian Development Bank, which was founded in 2006 to finance infrastructure projects in Russia and Kazakhstan, is to expand its remit to include investments in financial institutions, according to its chairman.

"We are looking to take block stakes in banks, especially those that have cross-border networks," Igor Finogenov tells Euromoney in an interview in London.

"The main idea," he adds, "is that the [investment in] the bank will help us fulfil our mission. We wouldn’t take stakes to help bail out failing banks. That’s not our role. We don’t have such a mandate."

Instead, says Finogenov, the EDB’s purpose is to facilitate economic growth and regional integration among the Eurasian countries. For that reason any investment in the financial sector will be made in institutions that focus particularly on trade finance and SME lending or are planning to do so. Typically, the EDB will seek to take stakes of about 20% and have a board presence, adds the Russian chairman. Finogenov hopes that the EDB will make its first investment this year, most probably in a Russian bank. The investments will be for between three and five years, although Finogenov denies that the aim is purely a commercial one.

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