International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is proposing a $10-million equity investment in TBC Uzbekistan (TBC UZ), a newly formed bank developed by TBC Bank Group, the largest bank in Georgia.
The investment will give IFC a minority stake of 20 per cent. The lender currently holds an 8-per cent stake in TBC Bank Group.
TBC UZ will focus on lending to underserved, fast-growing retail customers, and small and medium enterprises, with a strong emphasis on digital offering, IFC said in a disclosure.
“It will be a next-generation banking ecosystem with a strong emphasis on digital offering, using high-quality contemporary banking practices transposed from the TBC Bank Group’s Georgian operations,” IFC said.
TBC UZ is expected to contribute to increased competitiveness of the country’s banking sector through innovation, competition, and demonstration channels. It will provide access to finance for underserved segments in the economy, IFC added.
“Should TBC UZ prove successful, this will invite other private investors into the Uzbek banking sector. In addition, strong operational performance focused on modern branches and digital channels is expected to push traditional banks towards innovation and increased efficiency,” the lender said.
Uzbekistan became a member of the IFC in 1993. Since 1996, IFC has supported a number of private sector projects in the country’s financial, agribusiness, and food sectors.
Last August, IFC proposed lending up to $20 million in long-term financing to build a 100-megawatt solar project in Uzbekistan. It also proposed to extend a $60-million loan to Thai chemicals company Indorama Group to finance its cotton farming initiatives in Uzbekistan.
For TBZ Uzbekistan, IFC said it will provide own account equity to “help establish a modern, efficient, and profitable private bank in a country in which private sector investment in the banking sector has been negligible over the past three years”.