OREANDA-NEWS. April 03, 2013.. Under an agreement signed on 15 March 2013, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is to provide Center-invest Bank, southern Russia’s leading bank, with two three-year credit lines for a total of RUB1.5bn (RUB750m and RUB750m). For the first time in the EBRD and Center-invest Bank’s history, the agreement was signed using videoconferencing technology.

The loan agreement was signed by Grigory Zhukov, chairman of Center-invest Bank’s Executive Board, Tatiana Ivanova, Center-invest Bank’s chief accountant, and George Orlov, EBRD Director for Financial Institutions in Russia. A video recording of the signing of the agreement is available on our YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/centrinvest).

Center-invest Bank will use the first credit line to finance the introduction of energy efficiency technologies in industry, agriculture and the housing and communal services sector. It will also provide finance for individual customers’ energy efficiency projects. The second credit line will be used to help SMEs and to provide access to finance for microbusinesses.

The loan agreement is the latest step in a long history of collaboration between the EBRD and Center-invest Bank. Since 2002, the EBRD has provided Center-invest Bank with more than USD200m in loan funds, as well as advice on developing new energy efficiency finance products, loan products for women in business, and trade finance.

The new credit line is interesting for the Russian financial market, as it is a long-term ruble credit line, and it is dual-purpose: for SME lending and for introducing energy efficiency technologies," said chairman of Center-invest Bank’s Board of Directors, Dr Vasily Vysokov. “We look forward to continuing our fruitful cooperation with the EBRD on the basis of a sustainable banking business model.”

Commenting on the agreement, Mr Orlov said, “We welcome this new initiative from our long-standing partner, Center-invest Bank. We have successfully implemented many projects together with Center-invest Bank and we are continuing to find new avenues for cooperation. This loan will help develop microbusinesses, and it will also give a new boost to energy efficiency in southern Russia.”

In the Rostov region, Center-invest Bank accounts for more than 27% of all long-term loans made to SMEs for investment purposes. The bank is successfully participating in programmes run by the Loan Guarantee Funds of the Rostov and Volgograd regions, Krasnodar Krai and Stavropol Krai.

Established twenty years ago by southern Russia’s first privatised enterprises, Center-invest Bank has become known as a "reform laboratory" in the region, and it has established successful partnerships with international financial institutions. It is the leading bank in southern Russia and the only one to have a Moody’s Ba3 (global scale) rating.