Sir Suma Chakrabarti, EBRD President
Opening of the EBRD's Resident Office in Cyprus
EBRD open for business in Cyprus, says EBRD President
Minister, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Thank you for attending our event today and welcome to the EBRD’s Resident Office in Cyprus. I am very pleased to open the office together with Minister of Finance Harris Georgiades, who is also the EBRD Governor for Cyprus. We had the pleasure to work very closely with Harris in the past few months to make happen, what I would call a historic moment for the EBRD and Cyprus.
Cyprus became an EBRD country of operations at our Annual Meeting in May. Soon after we started working in the country and our Head of Office, Libor Krkoška, has been busy establishing contacts and putting the EBRD on the map of the local business community. However, it is the office opening today which represents the official starting signal for our activities in Cyprus.
Our Resident Offices play a pivotal role in our work in the countries where we invest. The office serves as a home, as a hub and also as the link between our Headquarters in London and our activities on the ground. In Libor we have chosen a highly experienced and respected banker who has already managed our operations in Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina before we dispatched him to Cyprus.
Libor will be supported by a team of eight staff here in Nicosia, and of course all the relevant sector teams and departments back in London. We are grateful for all the help and encouragement we have received in establishing our operations in the country, and I think you will all join me wholeheartedly in wishing Libor and his team every success in their work.
We will need your good wishes, because we have set ourselves ambitious targets. When our shareholders voted in favour of Cyprus’ request to become a country of operations earlier this year for a limited period of time, we as management said we expect to invest at least €100 million per year in the country.
We will focus on investments in the financial sector, energy, privatisations and providing finance to projects of individual companies. Our goal is to support the recovery of the country’s economy which is suffering from a protracted recession following a deep financial crisis.
I am very pleased to report that our activities are off to a promising start and we have already concluded our first transaction by participating in the capital raise of Bank of Cyprus, the country’s biggest lender. I am mentioning this not only because it was our first investment in Cyprus which was done in amazing speed, but also because it serves as a good example for what the EBRD stands for: we have expertise in the financial sector, we have funds to invest and we are risk-takers with a long-term view of the benefit of a given company as well as the wider economy.
The same holds true for the real economy, where we have a whole set of tailored products to offer. We have experience in restructuring, introducing best practice and corporate governance standards and in preparing companies for IPOs and guiding and accompanying them through this process. We are also targeting the small and medium-sized enterprise sector as the backbone of the economy and we have built up unique know-how and experience in financing energy efficiency investments.
All this will be available to Cyprus as it is to any other country where the EBRD invests. Today we are operating in more than 30 countries from Vladivostok to Casablanca. Every office opening is special to us as it marks the beginning of our manifold activities and signals to the local and international community that we are open for business.
What distinguishes today from any other, however, is the fact that for the first time the EBRD is now an investor in country which was a donor country when the Bank was established in 1991. Cyprus stood ready when our first countries of operations in Central and Eastern Europe needed investment 25 years ago. Overcoming the legacy of the global financial crisis the time has now come to return the favour to Cyprus and it is an important signal of international solidarity that the EBRD and its shareholders are ready to provide this support.
Without doubt this commitment together with the determination of Cyprus’ authorities to implement comprehensive reforms to unleash the potential of the country’s economy will allow us to succeed. In this sense your success will be our success and our success will be yours and in this spirit allow me to declare the EBRD open for business in Cyprus!
Thank you for your attention.