EBRD and IFC to acquire stakes in TBC Bank Group’s Uzbek digital bank

By Muzaffar Ismailov in Tashkent September 30, 2021

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) plan to acquire up to 20% each in TBC Bank Uzbekistan (TBC UZ), a digital bank subsidiary of Georgia’s LSE-listed TBC Bank Group.

The investments by the institutional investors are aimed at promoting increased private-sector participation in Uzbekistan’s banking sector and at strengthening digital finance in Uzbekistan, thus increasing financial inclusion in the country, the EBRD said.

The first subscription is set to amount to $9.4mn for each of the two investors. There is an intention to support further capital increases during 2022-2024.

Founded in October 2020, TBC UZ opened as the first digital bank in Uzbekistan. Today, it operates through two new-generation smart branches and 34 "customer contact points" in 12 cities of the country.

The bank provides innovative financial products to more than 630,000 registered retail users.

"This is the first equity investment in the banking sector of Uzbekistan since the resumption of EBRD cooperation with the country in 2017. We welcome competition and expect that it will benefit everyone," said Alkis Drakinos, head of the EBRD representative office in Uzbekistan.

Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, chief executive officer of TBC Bank, commented: "We have a long history of successful cooperation with the IFC and EBRD, which have stood firmly by our side for two decades. I am extremely grateful to them for embarking on this exciting next stage of our journey with us. This joint venture arrangement marks another important milestone for our expansion in Uzbekistan, allowing us to accelerate our growth in the country and offer a wide range of innovative and affordable products to the population. TBC UZ successfully operates based on our innovative fintech platform, Space, which offers retail banking solutions through a mobile app.” 

Wiebke Schloemer, IFC director for Europe and Central Asia, said: “We are further deepening our partnership with TBC Bank Group. IFC is supporting TBC’s efforts in expanding banking services, based on innovative and technological solutions, across Uzbekistan. This investment is also well aligned with our strategy to help Uzbekistan promote greater market competitiveness through increasing the share of private-sector participation in the banking industry.”

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