A consortium led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has bought a 41 per cent stake in Moldova’s largest commercial bank, Moldova Agroindbank (MAIB), in a 23 million-euro deal that the development-focused lender hopes will restore trust in the sector and encourage other investors. Moldova Agroindbank’s assets are worth 22 billion Moldovan lei (1.3 billion US dollars). Its shares have been sold at 1,059 lei per share (62.70 US dollars).
MAIB’s had bee under the direct control of the Moldovan National Bank (BNM) and put up for auction to strategic investors since the Moldovan banking scandal of 2014, when more than one billion US dollars disappeared from three of the country’s banks. The sale will be seen as a further step in meeting the requirements of Moldova’s international backers, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to root out corrupt practices and make the ownership of lenders more transparent.
Along with the EBRD, the consortium behind the purchase is made up of Vilnius-based Invalda and Horizon Capital, which manages funds which provide financing to businesses in Ukraine and Moldova.
“The government has shown strong political will and resolve to clean up the banking sector,” said Francis Malige, the EBRD’s managing director for financial institutions. “It took a brave decision to support the sale process of MAIB, which, no doubt, will contribute to better banking services and stronger investments to the Moldovan economy as a whole.”
Also with the EBRD’s support, Romanian lender Banca Transilvania earlier this year bought a minority stake – 39.2 percent – in Victoriabank, the country’s third-largest lender.
The Moldovan authorities will now concentrate on finding a buyer for Moldindconbank, which has been under the BNM’s control since October 2016.
Photo: Rise Moldova