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Armenia's Economic Pulse

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  • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

    INTERVIEW: On the road with Armenia's Ardinshininvestbank

    Ardshininvestbank has emerged as one of the largest players in Armenia's small, but highly competitive, banking market. To keep up the momentum, the bank is exploring many options to raise funds on international and domestic markets. When I caught up with deputy chairman Evgeny Spravtsev at the BTA Interbanking conference in Almaty at the end of September, he explained that the bank had passed two highly significant milestones in the last year. First, in December 2007, the International Financial Corporation (IFC) took a 10% stake in the bank, also providing a $15m credit line for small business and mortgage funding. In July, Moody's Investors Service assigned its first credit rating to Ardshininvest. At 'Ba3/Ba1/NP/D-', Ardshininvest has the highest rating it could hope to gain given Armenia's country ceiling. These developments, Spravtsev says, are the bricks on which the bank's future will be built. "With the IFC's investment and our Moody's rating, we can go to international financial markets to borrow money. They make us more understandable for our peers, and show that we're as transparent as any CIS bank could be." The bank is preparing for an AMD1.5bln (around $5m) domestic bond issue at the end of November. "This is our debut issue. It's a small amount by international standards, but for Armenia it's quite big – almost four times largest than the latest issue. Our main objective is to establish a credit history so we can borrow more in future," says Spratsev. It also has two deals in the pipeline with international investors, to be closed by the end of this year.

    Hard job

    The lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel in Almaty seems an appropriate place to mull over the pros and cons of raising money on international capital markets, given Kazakhstan's recent financial history. Comparing Armenia to Kazakhstan, Spravtsev explains that, "The Armenian financial sector is less involved with international financial markets. This was a disadvantage, but at this stage it's to our advantage because we are not so harassed by the financial crisis." However, the gloom that international capital markets have been plunged into means that despite eight years of double-digit GDP growth in their country, for Ardshininvestbank and other Armenian banks, it's "not as easy to raise capital as we thought." A large part of Spravtsev's role involves raising money and arranging trade finance. He was invited to join Ardshininvestbank in order to bring his experience of the Russian market – working at Home Credit and Finance Bank – to Armenia. The bank's owners had already spotted that Armenia's banking sector was progressing in a similar way to Russia's, but was several years behind in terms of development.

    He is particularly proud of the IFC deal – "the largest deal with an institutional investor in recent Armenian history," he points out. As well as working on the bond issue and raising finance from international investors, he is also working on partnerships with international institutions and arranging trade finance, opening as many lines for the bank as possible. Most recently, the bank announced a trade finance deal with ČSOB (Ceskoslovenská Obchodná Banka) – the very first trade finance deal between Czech/Slovak and Armenian banks. Given the highly competitive landscape of the Armenian banking sector, investment is necessary to maintain Ardshininvestbank's position as one of the country's top three banks. "There are 22 banks in Armenia – that's not many for some countries, but for Armenia it's too many. We expect to see a process of consolidation, and more new entrants to the market," Spravtsev says. Around 50% of Armenia's banking sector is already in foreign hands, and this figure is likely to increase. The Armenian banking sector is extremely well regulated, according to a report released earlier this year by ratings agency RusRating, which has further increased its attractiveness to potential investors. Ardshininvestbank's majority owner, with 86.8% of the stock, is Region-IFC – a diversified holding company owned by businessman Karen Safaryan. It was formed in 2003 and later in that year acquired a significant part of the assets and liabilities of two Armenian banks - Ardshinbank and Armagrobank. It is active across both corporate and private banking, with more than 12,000 business clients and 52,000 private clients. "We think of ourselves as a universal bank. There is no one sector that we would like to develop more than others," Spravtsev says.

    Today, the bank is Armenia's largest in terms of authorized capital, loans, net profit and term deposits. It is also a big player in the international transfer market, which is highly important to the Armenian economy – remittances from Russia amounted to $554m in the first quarter of 2008 alone. "There is a huge cash flow into the country from Armenians working abroad," explains Spravtsev. "For many families this is their only source of income. We work with all the major providers – both international firms like MoneyGram, and CIS-based firms such as Unistream and FastPost." Much of the Armenian economy is still cash-based, meaning that Ardshininvestbank and its peers have an uphill struggle persuading their clients to adopt new banking products.. "What I say to everyone here is 'be patient, you can't do it all in a day'," Spravtsev says. "Good communication is very important." Highlighting its arrival as one of Armenia's largest banks, Ardshinivestbank moved to new headquarters in central Yerevan in April this year. After three years of renovation work, the opening of the new offices, designed by prominent Armenian architect Sargis Gyurzadyan, was celebrated with a lavish housewarming attended by the then president, Robert Kocharyan, and the president-elect, Serge Sargsyan. It was the chairman of Ardshininvestbank's management board who summed up the significance of the occasion, describing his ambition "to bring to life an idea of a pan-Armenian, big and powerful bank."

    Մեր ժողովուրդն արանց հայրենասիրութեան այն է, ինչ որ մի մարմին' առանց հոգու:


    Please visit me at my Heralding the Rise of Russia blog:


    • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

      Iran-Armenia link to cost at least $1 billion
      /PanARMENIAN.Net/ A railroad connecting Armenia and Iran will cost at least $1 billion, said Vladimir Yakunin, head of Russian Railways (RZD) which operates the Armenian railway network.

      Russian Railways will act as a contractor if Russia, Iran and Armenia agree on financing, he said, adding that Armenian and Russian Presidents discussed the project during their recent meeting, RZD-Partner report.

      Earlier, Armenian Minister of Transport and Communications Gurgen Sargsyan said the construction can take some 5 years.

      Presently, three projects are being considered. The first supposes departure from Yeraskh, the second from Vardenis and the third from Gagarin, extending for 443, 449 and 397 km respectively.

      Armenia favors the project which supposes the start of communication in Gagarin and then through Gavar, Martuni and Jermuk. 80 km of the line will extend through Iran, going as far as Merant station.
      Azerbaboon: 9.000 Google hits and counting!


      • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

        You dont find this the least bit coincidental? Especially after the fact that the Russian Railway company explicitly stated that they had no intention of participating in the railway. Now when they are under Anti-trust investigation by the Armenian government for violoting monopoply laws, they conveniently switch the tune of their whistle?


        I know some of you love our Russian "ally" but damn, these guys are the anti-christ of the world. As I once gleefully read in a comic "If you want to live in a Post-apocalyptic world, Move to Russia"

        I hate slavs more than I hate turks. Turks atleast share phenotypic and cultural similarities with us. Make of that what you will, but the soviets were just as bad to armenians. Actually, more Armenians die in Russia today than do in Turkey . I don't feel I need to hide that feeling anymore. I know that will bother some of you but I had to get it of my chest. I love my Hayastan, and thats what counts.


        • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

          Armenian premier says investments in Armenia-Iran railway construction to reach $2 blnYEREVAN, November 13. /ARKA/.

          Investments in construction of Armenia-Iran railway will total $2bln, RA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan reported at the RA parliament’s session on Wednesday.

          The large-scale program offers good investment opportunities, the premier said, adding the government has negotiated with the private investors over their possible participation in the project.

          Armenia’s Transport Minister Gurgen Sargsyan previously said the World Bank and the Asian development Bank would co-finance the railway construction project.

          It has been fixed that one of the sections of the railway will pass though Jermuk-Meghri. The railway is likely to pass through Sisian and Kapan.

          Some 100km of the railway will pass though Iran, with the starting point being the Armenian border. The last station of will be Merand in Iran. Specialists say the railway will be constructed in six years.

          In soviet times, Yerevan-Yeraskh-Nakhijevan (Azerbaijan)-Meghri railway, which does not work now, used to link Armenia and Iran.

          The new railway will pass through the territory of Armenia, opening an alternative route for imports. The only railway linking Armenia and other countries passes through Georgia.


          • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

            Minister: Armenian government disposes of resources to counteract financial crisis but no need to put them into use

            YEREVAN, November 12. /ARKA/. The RA Government disposes of enough resources and programs to react to possible challenges and dangers of the world financial crisis, said the RA Minister of Finance Tigran Davtyan.

            “However currently there is no necessity for that, especially in financial and banking sectors as the banking, finance and budget sectors are in a normal condition and operate normally,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

            Minister Davtyan assured the financial crisis did not affect Armenia. However he believes the next year will not be easy for world economy and the Armenian Government knows what to do in case of necessity and how to assist the country’s financial institutes.

            Davtyan stressed the 2009 will not be “a year of luxury for the world economy”. According to him Armenia will manage to keep a continual economic growth in the future, though not as fast.

            “Not many countries are able to ensure a stable economic growth in current conditions. We have to take every measure to ensure a growth and go through the difficult stage next year,” the Minister noted.



            • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

              Armenia’s economic growth in leading positions:

              YEREVAN, November 19. /ARKA/. Armenia’s economic growth has leading positions in the world, Gagik Gabrielyan, head of the economic group of AEPLAC (Armenian-European Policy and Legal Advice Centre), said today, quoting the Armenian Economic Trends: 2007 Annual Report.

              According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), last year Armenia ranked sixth among 181 countries in terms of a two-digit growth in GDP.

              Armenia recorded 13.8% economic growth in 2007 – a double increase compared to 2001, Gabrielyan said, adding Armenia ranked 82nd (sixth in the CIS) in terms of the purchasing power parity (PPP) of $5,711 worth GDP per capita.

              The nominal value of Armenia’s GDP totalled $9,204mln (€6,731mln) between January and September 2008, with GDP per capita amounting to $2,853 (€2,086).

              Armenia saw 10.3% year-on-year economic growth between January and August 2008, with $2,187 (€1,427) GDP per capita. The country expects 9.2% economic growth in 2009.

              The structure and content of AEPLAC’s annual economic reports are in line with the requirements of traditional macroeconomic reports. They provide an in-depth analysis of the annual macroeconomic developments of Armenia. –0—



              • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                These figures alone are impressive, but consider the facts below and then these numbers become all the more impressive.

                1. landlocked
                2. blockaded on over 75% of our borders
                3. have no oil or transcontinental pipelines
                4. have the smallest population in the region
                5. Still technically at "war" with azerbaijan (as they call it)
                6. A Post-soviet socialist republic

                Long live Free Hyastan!


                • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                  latest news: the establishment of the pan armenian bank will start early 2009


                  • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                    Very nice to know.
                    I was taught how to think.


                    • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                      Originally posted by vasbourakan1 View Post
                      latest news: the establishment of the pan armenian bank will start early 2009
                      I wonder if regular folks like us will be allowed to open accounts with the pan-Armenian Bank?
                      For the first time in more than 600 years, Armenia is free and independent, and we are therefore obligated
                      to place our national interests ahead of our personal gains or aspirations.