Saudi investors, Turkey pledge to invest in Bosnia
* Saudi investors form joint venture for Bosnia
* Initial capital of company, led by IDB, is $50 million
* Turkish state Eximbank to extend credit lines for Bosnia
By Daria Sito-Sucic
SARAJEVO, April 6 (Reuters) - Saudi investors pledged on Wednesday to invest in Bosnia with $50 million starting capital and Turkey said that one of its banks will extend credit lines for infrastructure projects.
Officials from the Middle East and Turkey said they wanted to help development of Bosnia, a Balkan country impoverished during the 1992-95 war where a large Muslim population lives alongside the Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats. The Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Al Baraka BARKA.BH banking group and other Saudi investors have formed a joint investment company for Bosnia, said Saudi Arabia's Sheikh Saleh Kamel, the chairman of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"The $50 million will be our investment by the next forum to enhance the development and investment in Bosnia," Kamel, who is also founder and chairman of Bahrain-based Islamic bank Al Baraka, told a business conference in Sarajevo.
"It is a venture capital to look for the investment opportunities and prepare everything and then bring investors to invest."
Turkey's Economy Minister Ali Babacan said that Turkey was interested to invest in Bosnia and the wider Balkans, and announced that Turkish state import-export lender Eximbank will extend credit lines for projects in Bosnia.
"Eximbank is now fully ready to finance major investment projects in Bosnia, roads, energy and any infrastructure projects," Babacan told the conference. "We believe that companies, investors who act now will get good results."
Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the president of Turkey's Union of chambers of commerce, said now was a good time to invest in the Balkans as all countries were progressing towards membership of the European Union.
(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Erica Billingham)