Amid its continued financial growth and stability, The Bank of Georgia announced yesterday it would launch operations across the Middle East and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Following several visits to the region, Bank of Georgia senior executives said they believed in the potential of the two emerging markets and were eager to create long-term cooperation. “We have made a strategic decision to expand operations across the Middle East and CIS following indications of the growing economic potential in the two regions,” said Vasil Revishvili, Global Head of Wealth Management at the Bank of Georgia.
Revishvili’s announcement comes as Georgia pursues an aggressive economic liberalization policy that has rewarded investors both in Georgia and abroad. In 2008, the World Bank recognized Georgia as the world’s fasted reforming economy in its “Doing Business” report, ranking it the world’s 15th easiest place to conduct business. It also placed Georgia among the countries showing the most improvement against corruption.
Economic analysts in the Middle East region have already lauded the announcement of the Bank of Georgia’s entrance into the region as Georgian and Arab investors continue exploring commercial potentials. Over the past year, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has publicly turned to the Middle East in his bid to lure foreign direct investment (FDI), having visited the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar several times.
Arab investment in Georgia has already reached significant levels mainly from the United Arab Emirates, which is accounting for nearly 20 percent of Georgia’s total FDI. For two consecutive years—2007 and 2008—the UAE was the largest foreign investor with investments reaching $306.6 million. Qatari real estate investors have also eyed the Georgian market expressing their eagerness to take part in the expanding business opportunities across Georgia.
“Arab-Georgian relations are particularly warm,” Revishvili said. “We have all the confidence that our future in the Middle East will be bright," he added.
With control of one third of the banking market in Georgia, The Bank of Georgia is the most liquid stock on the Georgian Stock Exchange and only Georgian lender listed on the London Stock Exchange, where it had raised $160 million in an initial public offering in November 2006.
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