The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has committed a record €2.53bn for new loan and equity investments in 66 projects in central and eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States in the nine months ended September 30, compared with €1.84bn for 58 projects in the same period last year.

Gross disbursements were steady at €1.6bn.

Investments ranged across the EBRD’s region of operations, including privatisation of the largest bank in Slovenia, power-sector restructuring in Russia and introduction of a new way of financing post-harvest agricultural activities in Kazakhstan. New business was particularly strong in Russia and in the Bank’s less advanced transition countries, accounting for 69% of volume. Russian signings alone so far stand at €812mn, or nearly double the level at this point last year.

Profit after provisions for the nine months rose to €210.2mn, compared with €177.6mn a year earlier, primarily due to higher returns from the equity portfolio. As at September 30, 2002, the bank had authorised share capital of €20bn, paid-in capital and reserves of €5.8bn and cumulative provisions on its banking portfolio of €1.2bn.

Steven Kaempfer, vice-president, finance, says the bank’s robust operational and financial performance for the first nine months had been encouraging and that the continued strength of the pipeline of potential new projects across the region and in most sectors augurs well for business activity looking forward. However, he notes that lower-than-expected loan provisions charges so far this year were likely to increase in the final quarter in light of the challenging current operating environment.