Romania’s Banca Transilvania (BT) has become a shareholder of Victoriabank, the third largest bank in the Republic of Moldova, with a total participation of over 66% alongside the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), BT announced on January 16.
This is the first time in the past 10 years that a bank from outside Moldova has invested in the market. In line with Moldovan law, BT and the EBRD will now offer to buy the remaining shares in the Moldovan bank.
BT plans to support the business environment in Moldova, especially the SME and microenterprise sector, to develop a wider range of products and services for retail clients and to bring the organisational culture and corporate governance of Victoriabank in line with those of the Banca Transilvania Financial Group, the bank said.
BT is paving the path for future investments in the neighboring country. The bank has been expanding in Romania too, where it has acquired Volksbank Romania and it is now acquiring the majority stake (99.15%) in Bancpost from Greek Eurobank.
Banca Transilvania announced its plan to invest in Moldova in November 2017, since when the acquisition has been approved by the supervisory authorities from both Romania and Moldova – the National Bank of Romania, the National Bank of Moldova and the Competition Council of the Republic of Moldova, BT said in a statement.
In a separate statement, the EBRD welcomed the acquisition by BT of a 39.2% stake in Victoriabank.
The EBRD increased its stake in Victoriabank 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. BT channeled its investment into Victoriabank through the same special purpose vehicle.
“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," commented Henry Russell, EBRD director, financial institutions, Western Balkans, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, in a statement. "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.”
Previously, the bank said, it reduced its lending volume to the Moldovan financial sector and focussed 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".
Victoriabank has almost 30 years of activity, 540,000 customers, 1,400 employees and nearly 100 units. BT is the second largest bank in Romania, with 2.2mncustomers, more than 7,000 employees and over 500 units.
The Banca Transilvania Financial Group has been present in the Republic of Moldova for over 10 years, since having founded the company BT Leasing MD, which is the market leader in the area of lease finance for fixed assets.
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