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NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE, EBRD AND IFC JOIN FORCES IN FYR MACEDONIA'S LARGEST BANK PRIVATISATION


Ben Atkins at EBRD
Tel: +44 802 510 751

Brigid Janssen at IFC
Tel: + 1 202 458 4698

 Apostolos Tamvakakis at NBG
 Tel:  + 30 1 3830 904/3630 957


In support of the largest bank privatisation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the National Bank of Greece (NBG), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) are making equity investments in Stopanska Banka. NBG will acquire a majority stake of 68.4 percent for a total investment of up to DM 117 million (60 million Euro), while the EBRD and IFC will each take a stake of up to 10.5 percent worth DM 18 million (9.2 million Euro).

"The presence of the EBRD and IFC alongside NBG as a strategic investor will boost confidence in FYR Macedonia's banking system," said Henry Russell, the EBRD's Country Director for FYR Macedonia. "As it is the first bank to be privatised with a strategic foreign investor, it will help to attract further foreign investments in the country. As a large retail bank, Stopanska Banka will be better equipped to provide banking services and loans to small and medium-sized private sector businesses."
"Stopanska Banka's new management and transfer in ownership represents an important step in the government's economic reform plan," said Harold Rosen, IFC's Director for Central and Southern Europe. "We expect that the privatisation will improve the Bank's corporate governance, overall management systems and controls, and will help to restore confidence in the financial sector. This, in turn, is likely to have a positive impact on the non-financial sector, domestic savings and economic growth."
"The acquisition of the majority stake in Stopanska Banka further enhances the NBG's presence and operations in the Balkans in accordance with its strategy to become a major regional bank in the area," said Apostolos Tamvakakis, Deputy Governor of NBG. "This investment amply demonstrates NBG's firm commitment to FYR Macedonia's economic growth and development."
The investment will strengthen the capital base of Stopanska Banka. It will facilitate the full privatisation and restructuring of the bank and will support a capital investment program, including modernization of the computer systems, branch network upgrading, and personnel training.
Incorporated in 1944 to serve the banking needs of local companies and other institutions, Stopanska Banka has always held a dominant position. It is the largest full-service universal bank, and as of the end of 1998, it handled around 35 percent of the country's payment operations, total customer deposits, and total customer loans in the sector.
The National Bank of Greece is the largest commercial bank of Greece and leads the biggest financial services group of the country. It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and on various European stock exchanges, notably the Athens Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. As of 30 June 1999, the group had total assets of approximately US$42.5 billion and equity capital equal to US$2.3 billion. It maintains a presence in 16 different countries, including Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania.
The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private sector investment in developing countries, which will reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.
The EBRD was established in 1991 following the collapse of communism, to aid the transition from centrally planned to market economies in central and eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The EBRD is owned by 60 shareholders: 58 countries, the European Investment Bank and the European Community, and operates with 20 billion Euro in authorized capital.