A finance package from the EBRD will support Azerigazbank, one of Azeribaijan’s leading private banks, in its drive to broaden its client base and to provide longer-term loans for its small business clients.

In addition to a US$6mn credit line for on-lending to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises the bank will also expand its cooperation with Azerigazbank under the Trade Facilitation Programme.

Under the new agreement worth US$4.5mn, EBRD will provide Azerigazbank not only with guarantees covering the obligations of Azerigazbank in connection with international trade finance but also with cash advances to finance pre-export, post-import, local distribution and factoring activities of the bank.

Azerbaijan’s economy has been growing exceptionally since the opening of the BTC pipeline last year and as a result the banking sector is also expanding rapidly. The new credit line will allow Azerigazbank to extend its lending operations and to provide clients with longer-term loans. The credit line will be complemented with technical cooperation funds for staff training and improved procedures.

Azerigazbank, set up in 1992, focuses its activities on private sector customers, mainly in the oil and trading sectors, as well as on small and medium-sized enterprises. It was a pioneer in launching consumer finance and credit card services. The EBRD and Azerigazbank have been working together since 1998 and the bank has received three credit lines and has participated in the Trade Facilitation Programme.

With the development of Azerbaijan’s economy, international trade is expanding and Azerigazbank’s clients “demand for trade instruments is increasing. Transactions carried out under TFP so far have covered deliveries of industrial equipment, consumer goods and electric appliances from France, Germany, Turkey and South Korea to Azerbaijan.

The conversion into a cross-limit will allow Azerigazbank to provide trade finance banking solutions to its clients for the pre-export and post-import phases of trade including domestic distribution and factoring.

Kurt Geiger, EBRD business group director, financial institutions, says the new finance package will contribute to the evolution of a broadly-based banking system by strengthening one of the country’s leading private banks. The credit line to Azerigazbank is expected to ease the access to finance for many micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. This in turn will contribute to the diversification of Azerbaijan’s economy.