Loans and investments made by the EBRD rose 6.4% to €467mn in the first quarter of this year and the focus of the bank’s business continued to shift towards the less advanced transition countries in its area of operations.

The EBRD signed 16 projects in the first quarter, up from 12 for the corresponding period in 2005, and disbursements totalled €668mn compared with €410mn.

The geographical spread of the bank’s new business reflected its greater emphasis on countries to the east and south of the EBRD’s region of operations.

The share of new business carried out in Russia more than doubled to 29% from 13% for the same period in 2005. As was the case last year, most new business was carried out in early and intermediate transition countries, where the share held at 56%.

New business in the advanced transition countries more than halved to 15% from 31% in same 2005 period.

The EBRD’s profit after provisions for the three months was €154.1mn, which was ahead of target but below the €323.3mn profit recorded in the first quarter of last year. This includes realised gains from the sale of share investments of €24.5mn in 2006 compared to realised gains achieved in the first quarter of 2005 of €273.7mn.

Both realised profits from exits from share investments and unrealised movements in valuations of associate investments recognised through the profit and loss account remain inherently volatile and dependent on external market factors.

Steven Kaempfer, EBRD vice-president, finance, says the first quarter results represent a solid start to the year and confirm the bank is doing more business through more projects in the less advanced transition countries, in line with the bank’s strategy which was approved by EBRD’s board of governors during the bank’s recent annual meeting.

He also notes the further strengthening of the operational pipeline of potential new projects reflecting strong demand for EBRD financing.