The EBRD is taking an equity stake of up to 25% in KazInvestBank, valued at up to Kt2.5bn (US$20mn), to support the bank’s regional expansion in Kazakhstan and the further development of its lending activities, especially in the retail and SME sectors.

Citigroup Venture Capital International (CVCI) has also taken a stake worth US$20mn in KazInvestBank. Following the transactions, both investors will be represented at the bank’s board of directors, with one director each.

It is the first investment in Kazakhstan by Citibank subsidiary CVCI. The involvement of EBRD and CVCI is expected to help further strengthen KazInvestBank’s corporate governance standards, organisational structure, policies and procedures.

KazInvestBank started its commercial banking operations in 2004 and has developed rapidly. The bank’s strategy focuses on corporate lending and retail operations. KazInvestBank, based in Almaty, plans to establish branches in all major regional commercial centres of the country.

EBRD president Jean Lemierre says the investment will strengthen a promising bank in Kazakhstan and have a positive impact on the country’s financial sector by increasing competition and setting higher standards of corporate governance and business conduct. “The EBRD will not only bring capital but also its experience, expertise and know-how to this new partnership,” he adds.

Nurlan Kapparov, chairman of the board of directors of KazInvestBank since 2003, says the new partnership with EBRD and CVCI represents the highest level of foreign participation so far in a Kazakh bank . “We hope that the presence of such investors and an internationally experienced management team at KIB will allow us to expand our business and achieve an unparalleled level of success in several key customer segments.”

In March 2006, the EBRD provided KazInvestBank with US$10mn under its Trade Facilitation Programme to be used for guarantees and cash disbursements. Trade financing is another core activity of KazInvestBank.