EBRD President describes Annual Meeting in Cyprus as “historic”

This years Annual Meeting in Cyprus can be described as historic, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said on Wednesday speaking at the opening session of the Board of Governors at the Bank’s Annual Meeting in Cyprus.

As he said the Bank gathered in Nicosia at the exact midpoint of the temporary mandate the Governors granted EBRD to work in Cyprus.

We are proud of the impact that our investments in Cyprus, worth more than Euros 220 million, have had so far, he said.

As he explained, the Bank participated in the recapitalisation of the two largest local private banks, Bank of Cyprus and Hellenic Bank, acquiring 5% stake in each, helping with their operational restructuring, corporate governance improvements, and putting in place a strategy to work out large non-performing loan portfolios.

He also said that the Bank launched its trade finance programme in Cyprus in 2015. By 2016, he said, Cyprus was the third most active trade finance country of operations, facilitating almost 180 transactions worth about Euro 80 million to support trade with 24 countries in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia.

And these transactions also set a benchmark of quality. Our trade finance programme deal of the year has, in each of the last two years, been a Cyprus deal: last year for the export of construction services from Cyprus to Egypt; and this year, for the import of a floating dry dock from Ukraine to Cyprus, he said.

EBRD, he added, has financed an expansion of solar power generation on the island by about 20 percent, including the largest photovoltaic plant in Cyprus to date, to be inaugurated on Thursday, right after the host country investment session.

Such impact would never have been possible without the dedication, efficiency and resolve of the Cypriot authorities and the private sector. This Annual Meeting thus presents us with a timely opportunity to pay tribute to Cyprus’ success in overcoming the financial crisis – and returning to the path of economic growth, President of EBRD noted.

He pointed out that this is also the first time an Annual Meeting has been held in the eastern Mediterranean.

Cyprus is an important gateway to what is the EBRD’s newest region of operations, what we call SEMED, and being here today underlines our enthusiastic commitment to this dynamic and diverse part of the world, he said.

Our backing for economic integration across all our regions of operations is matched by our support for integration within the island of Cyprus itself, he added.

EBRD strongly supports unification of Cyprus

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As he said, the Bank worked hard to fulfil the mandate set by the Governors to deliver projects across the whole island, for the benefit of both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.

He also noted that the EBRD remains staunchly committed to promoting efforts towards unification.

I am also sure that our shareholders would be strongly supportive of the economy of a united Cyprus should the current negotiations on re-unification be successful, as we all must hope, he said, pointing out that a united Cyprus would confront transition challenges and have funding needs rather different from those today.

But these would be more than compensated for by exciting new opportunities � and the resulting boost to regional stability, he said.

He also noted that the meeting in Cyprus is historic, due to the fact that is taking place in a country of operations in which we have been investing for only three years, something that is testament to the EBRD’s ability to inspire, to be rapidly responsive, and, most of all, to deliver.

Only a truly strong and successful Bank could point to our achievements in Cyprus in the short period we have been active here, he said.

Chakrabarti also outlined a clear vision for the Bank’s future: To deliver yet more impact, to enhance our financial sustainability and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of everything we do. The results of work to achieve these goals are there for all to see.

He also noted that in 2016, the EBRD produced another set of record investments, providing finance � as in 2015 � of Euros 9.4 billion in projects that made a strong contribution to progress towards the development of effective market economies.

This EBRD, he said, was aiming for even greater impact with the adoption of a set of investment criteria that ensure EBRD projects help economies become not only more competitive, but also better governed, greener, more inclusive, more resilient and more integrated.

Sir Suma told the Governors, who represent the EBRD’s 67 shareholders, that the Bank was determined to maintain its considerable financial strength, a prerequisite of delivering transition impact. Indeed, our net profit of Euros 1 billion last year, some 25 per cent up on 2015, is proof of our strength in this area. And this pleasing trend continues with our profits rising even more sharply in the first quarter of 2017, he said.

In this context he noted that all major international rating agencies had consistently and repeatedly reaffirmed the EBRD’s triple-A rating with a stable outlook. I am proud of this achievement and determined to safeguard it, he said.

The President said the EBRD’s unique business model, with its focus on the private sector, was particularly well placed to support the Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted worldwide in 2015 as a blueprint for global development up until 2030.

Source: Cyprus News Agency