RIGA - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has said it planned to acquire a 20 percent stake in Rietumu Banka by the end of the year.
Axel Reiserer, an EBRD representative, said the EBRD still wants to acquire a 20 percent stake in Rietumu, but he would not specify in exactly which month the deal could be closed.
Talks on the European bank buying a stake in the bank, one of the fastest growing on the Latvian market, have dragged on for almost three years. In March 2003 the EBRD's board decided to acquire one-fifth of Rietumu Banka's capital stock for some 7.9 million lats (11.2 million euros). Later the bank said the investment in Rietumu would allow the Latvian bank to expand operations, boosting the network of outlets and corporate banking. The project was designed to help develop a model for helping the so called niche banks to expand lending to small and medium sized enterprises, thereby contributing to overall growth of the economy.
However, due to the exceptionally rapid rise in both the bank's assets and profits, core shareholders 's Leonids Esterkins (33.78 percent), Anatolijs Levins (26.68 percent), Arkadijs Suharenko (19.11 percent) 's were in a position to ask for more.
Rietumu Banka is the fourth largest bank in Latvia by assets. Its share capital is 20.7 million lats.