“The first 25 years of MAIB demonstrated that the cooperation with international financial institutions has been and will continue to be one of the strategic direction for the bank”
Interview with Alex Tanase, Former Associate Director, Senior Banker at EBRD on the occasion of the 25-th Anniversary of C.B. Moldova Agroindbank SA (MAIB)
My warmest congratulations! This is an extraordinary achievement in view of the macro-economic and geo-political developments in the region and in Moldova during very challenging times. All my laudable words go to the management and to the staff of the bank. You have done a tremendous job! Excellent! But your job is not over. In the banking industry, 25 years of very good achievements just put the foundation for new more important ones. I am pretty sure that the bank will meet the challenges ahead with confidence and determination to keep its leadership position in Moldova. And not only! International cooperation, including with the international financial institutions, should be a strategic direction for the bank. Next milestone is 50 years of greater achievements. I wish you good luck, hard works and many successes on your way ahead!
How and when did you start your involvement with the Republic of Moldova?
: My fist involvement with Moldova was while being an Adviser with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington D.C. during the early ‘90s. After August 1991, Moldova clearly expressed its strategic wish to join the IMF. I was in charge, from the IMF’s side, for the preparation of the documentation for Moldova’s membership to the IMF. Moldova signed the IMF’s Articles of Agreement on 12 August 1992 with an original quota of SDR 90 mln (about USD 141 mln).
Out of the 25 years of the bank, you have cooperated with MAIB for a period of 23 years. It is a very long period of time, marked by various events and achievements. How would you characterise this cooperation in summary?
: Indeed, 23 years of cooperation is a long period of time. I have met the representatives of MAIB, Mr. G.C. Furtuna, the then President of the bank and Mrs. N. Gh. Vrabii, the then Vice-President of MAIB in March 1993 for the first time. From those early meetings, it was clear for me that there was sincere desire to cooperate from both sides, but there were many things to be resolved first. We have asked as a starting point to have the bank’s audited accounts by an international well known auditor. In those days, we wanted to understand the financial status of a Moldovan leading bank whose main item in the balance sheet was “Other assets” and whose balance sheet were still denominate in roubles. This was possible by September 1994. Then we have started preparation in earnest of the first credit line for MAIB of USD 20 mln. This was granted in August 1995. The line was fully implemented and 35 Moldovan companies benefited from its proceeds. This was the start. A picture is presented below from that event.
From left to right: L. Dumitrescu, V. Badrajan, R. Freeman, G. Furtuna,
X. Dedullen, N. Vrabii, B. Balthazar, D. Hexter and A. Tanase - August 1995
Question: How do you appreciate the importance of partnership between MAIB and EBRD for our national economy?
AT: Excellent! The start presented above was followed by many years of hard work on both sides (MAIB and EBRD) to consolidate the support which the Moldovan economy has needed, especially the Moldovan private sector which was and continue to be the focus of EBRD’s activities. Mrs. Vrabie was meanwhile promoted to the position of the President and, over the years, she formed a team of excellent staff which included the current President, Mr. Serghei Cebotari. Over the years, I have also cooperated with the Chairman of the Board, Mr. V. Miculet, and with many, many other staff of the bank. Many other facilities and technical assistance were granted by the EBRD to MAIB, including a loan dedicated to micro-lending, an additional SME credit line, a convertible subordinated debt, equity participation, energy efficiency loan for private industrial companies, residential energy efficiency loan and a long standing Trade Facilitation Program (TFP). In total the EBRD granted 8 facilities to MAIB which is a very impressive record. No other bank in Moldova has such a record. MAIB itself evolved meanwhile from total assets of Roubles 28.9 billion as of end-1991 to EUR 847 mln as of end-2015. Its net profit was of EUR 17.6 mln last year. This is an impressive development in the Moldovan context. I could say that by the time of my departure from EBRD (see picture, together with my Director Henry E. Russell, in January 2016), MAIB was in a very good financial shape, under a very good management and a dynamic one.
Question: What is your view/prospect on the interaction between Moldova-Agroindbank and international financial institutions?
AT: I guess that the first 25 years of existence of MAIB clearly demonstrated that the cooperation with the international financial institutions has been and will continue to be one of the strategic direction for the bank. The current management of the bank, led by the President S. Cebotari, has a very clear view in this respect. And it is the right one! The potential is great and the benefits will be for the national economy, for the Moldovan private sector and for MAIB’s hundreds of thousands of clients. Institutions such as EBRD, EIB, EFSE, Blank Sea Trade and Development Bank, IFC, World Bank and may others are ready, I am pretty sure, to support this strategy and MAIB’s efforts, provided that the right conditions are met. These conditions refer mainly to the macro-economic environment in Moldova, development of a modern banking sector, improvement of the corporate governance and transparency of the shareholders in all banks in the country, including in MAIB.
Question: Which are your wishes for the management of the bank of for the team of the bank on this very significant anniversary?
AT: The current Management of MAIB and its staff is aware of the complexity of their task. I have no doubt that they will focus their efforts to keep the leadership position of MAIB over the years to come, to maintain its excellent profitability and to improve the corporate governance. I wish them all good luck, many successes and many, many excellent achievements. The first 25 years were very challenging for MAIB, but the next 25 ones will be even more so. I am sure that the Management and the staff will be up to their huge tasks which are ahead of them. A glass of champagne (the best from Cricova!) is warranted for their health and success.
From left to right: S. Cebotari, A. Gheorghiu, V. Miculet, L. Rudeva, N. Vrabie, L. Manastirli, A. Tanase, M. Teleuca - May 2011
These are personal views of the author. The assessments and views expressed are not those of the EBRD. The assessment and data are based on information as of early April 2016