The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has boosted the lending potential of Belarus’s banking market with a US$12mn syndicated loan to the privately-owned Belarusky Narodny Bank (BNB).

The loan has two tranches: the first sees the EBRD providing US$5mn from its own account, with the second US$7mn tranche syndicated to the Luxembourg-based European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) and the Impulse Microfinance Investment Fund by Belgian firm Incofin Investment Management (Incofin IM).

The loan will enable BNB to increase its lending activity to SME exporters in Belarus.

“This is one of the few long-term syndicated loans in the history of Belarus, composed exclusively with western European partners and structured on the basis of English law,” says deputy CEO at BNB, Sergey Sabuk. “It is a great achievement for us, we have attracted the first syndicated loan in the history of our bank.”

Commenting on the transaction, financial institutions director for the western Balkans, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine at the EBRD, Henry Russell, says: “BNB is a very good example of how a private bank can successfully compete with large state-owned banks, especially in such a vibrant sector as SME lending.”

“This is the first syndicated loan arranged by EBRD to BNB, aiming to mobilise long-term funding from foreign participants.”

To date, the EBRD has financed a total of 66 projects in Belarus to the tune of €1.4bn.