European Bank Considering Expansion Into MENA

Despite the recent and ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is considering expanding their business into the area.

Bank Seeks Expansion into Middle East

At present the bank supports projects in Eastern Europe and the former states of the Soviet Union, but yesterday they began to take the steps necessary to expand into the MENA region.

“EBRD shareholders have made significant progress towards a decision on extending the bank’s investment to countries in the Middle East and North Africa,” a spokesman for the bank said.

Speaking at the bank’s annual meeting, Thomas Mirow, the EBRD chief explained that the bank would like to begin investing in the region sometime next year. The meeting for the twenty-year-old bank took place in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan.

“We are quite confident that it should be indeed possible to start with initial liquidities as of spring 2012,” Mirow said.

Investments Begin with Egypt and Morocco

The consequences of this move would be that the EBRD may even begin investing in Egypt, and perhaps Morocco as well, before the completion of the 18-month process of re-ratification of the bank’s new status.

Mirow said that the bank will hopefully make available 2.5 billion euros ($3.54 billion) of investments into the region each year.

International Community’s Answer to Arab Spring

Mirow added that “The move would be a major part in the international community’s response to the Arab Spring,” referring to the Arab uprising, especially which took place in Egypt, that resulted in the downfall of the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt is already being considered as a strong contender for the bank’s investments. Egypt’s temporary government submitted their request for the EBRD to lend funds to small and medium-size businesses after the downfall of Egypt’s previous government. Morocco has also voice interest in investments from the bank.