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EBRD agrees new loan to Georgian agribusiness holding

By Christopher  Booth

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is building on its support for the agribusiness sector in Georgia with a US$ 7 million loan to finance the expansion of Margebeli JSC, a local agribusiness group.

Margebeli owns four operating companies:  one of the leading producers of bottled mineral water in Georgia, Healthy Water; a food products distribution company, Engadi; a food processing company, Marneuli Food Factory; and an agricultural farm supplying the food factory, Marneuli Agro.

The loan will finance capital investments to develop the group, including equipment for the modernisation and expansion of food processing facilities at Marneuli Food Factory; the introduction of modern agricultural equipment to help improve crop productivity at Marneuli Agro; the upgrading of Engadi’s transportation fleet and storage capabilities; as well as working capital for the expansion of export activity by Healthy Water.

In conjunction with the investments in agricultural equipment provided by the loan to Marneuli Agro, the EBRD’s multi-donor Early Transition Countries Fund will finance a two-year consulting programme to improve the farm’s cultivation and harvesting techniques.

The loan marks the Bank’s second transaction offering financing to Margebeli. The first was in 2009.

“The EBRD is pleased to further support Margebeli’s development and help it capitalise on the huge potential of Georgia’s agriculture sector. This investment will help raise production techniques to modern standards while improving productivity,” said Paul-Henri Forestier, the EBRD’s Director for Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus.

Agriculture is one of the priority sectors in the EBRD’s country development strategy for Georgia.  Since beginning operations in Georgia, the EBRD has invested approximately € 1.6 billion in nearly 140 projects, € 91 million of which were invested in the agribusiness sector.

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