The FINANCIAL -- The EBRD has welcomed the acquisition by Romania’s Banca Transilvania of a 39.2 per cent stake in Victoriabank, a key Moldovan bank. It is the first time since 2007 that a foreign bank investor has entered the Moldovan market.
As a result of the transaction, which took place in Chisinau today, Banca Transilvania has become the largest shareholder in Victoriabank. The EBRD, a minority shareholder, and Banca Transilvania now jointly hold a controlling stake of 66.7 per cent in the Moldovan lender. In line with Moldovan law they will offer to buy the remaining shares.
The EBRD increased its stake in Victoriabank to 27.5 per cent in 2016 in a move to restore effective corporate governance and attract a strong strategic investor to Moldova’s third largest lender. The EBRD consolidated its stake in a special purpose vehicle, VB Investment Holding, located outside Moldova, owned and controlled by the Bank.
Banca Transilvania channeled its investment into Victoriabank through the same special purpose vehicle, according to the EBRD.
Henry Russell, EBRD Director, Financial Institutions, Western Balkans, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, said: “We are very proud to have been able to attract a strong strategic partner such as Banca Transilvania to become a shareholder in Victoriabank. As a next step the EBRD can consider restarting its lending programme for small and medium-sized enterprises in Moldova by making loans to Victoriabank that permit longer term lending to SMEs, contributing to their growth, job creation and economic growth more generally. We see Banca Transilvania’s move into the Moldovan market as a major step towards the restructuring and modernisation of the country’s financial sector.”
Banca Transilvania is the second largest bank by total assets in Romania. The EBRD is a minority shareholder.
The EBRD, previously a major lender to the Moldovan banking system, has had to reduce its overall lending volume to the financial sector and focus on the remaining few locally active banks that are owned by transparent shareholders and comply with high standards of corporate governance, integrity and sound financial performance. It stands ready to resume business with banks that meet these high standards.
The EBRD is a leading investor in Moldova. In 2017 alone, the Bank invested a record €130 million in the country’s economy. Since the start of operations in the country, overall EBRD investment has topped €1 billion across sectors such as infrastructure, energy, banking, industry, commerce and agriculture.