June 8, 2018 / 5:13 PM / in 9 days

ADB takes stake in Armenia's largest bank

YEREVAN, June 8 (Reuters) - Ameriabank, Armenia’s largest bank by assets, said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has bought a 13.97 percent stake for $30 million as it seeks to promote lending to small and medium-sized companies in the former Soviet country.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) already has a 17.8 percent stake in the Armenian lender, which has said it hopes to list in London in the next few years.

The ADB also approved a loan of up to $30 million to Ameriabank, as part of a programme to strengthen Armenia’s banking sector and promote lending to small and medium-sized businesses in the ex-Soviet country.

Under the programme, ADB also plans to provide a technical assistance grant to Ameriabank to support digital banking, IT systems, SME lending and risk management investments, Ameriabank said in a statement.

“As Armenia’s largest bank we have a great opportunity to lead the expansion of services and lending, especially in the SME sector, and this new support from the ADB will help us to realise this objective more rapidly,” Andrew Mkrtchyan, chairman of Ameriabank’s board of directors, said in the statement.

Ameriabank has been expanding at home after a $40 million investment by the EBRD in exchange for a 20 percent stake in 2016. It has since reduced its holding to 17.8 percent. (Reporting by Hasmik Mkrtchyan; writing by Margarita Antidze; editing by Susan Fenton)

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