EBRD approves China's application to become shareholder

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has accepted China as a shareholder, the bank said in a statement on Monday.

The green light by the bank’s governors was expected and gave China a token but symbolic 0.1 percent stake in the EBRD and a new way of extending its global influence after its steps to boost trade links with Europe and Asia.

It also gives Beijing another foothold in an international organisation and takes the number of EBRD shareholder countries to 65.

“China’s membership of the EBRD will open up significant further opportunities for sustainable investment by Chinese groups in the regions where the EBRD works,” an EBRD statement quoted the bank’s president, Suma Chakrabarti, as saying.

Established in 1991 to invest in the former Soviet bloc countries of eastern Europe, the EBRD has expanded its reach considerably in recent years.

It now invests in Mongolia, Turkey and the economies affected directly or indirectly by the Arab Spring such as Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan.

More recently it added euro zone crisis countries Greece and Cyprus to its list and Lebanon was also expected to become a member country in the coming days.

China though will only be providing rather than receiving money with its new membership. It may, however, benefit indirectly through EBRD projects in countries such as Kazakhstan that overlap with its so-called “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

The EBRD has also said it would like to do joint work with the new Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Additional reporting by Nigel Stephenson, editing by Mike Dolan and Grant McCool