TODAY.AZ / Business

IBAR Chairman to address 6th Business and Investment Meeting of USACC

28 April 2006 [08:52] - TODAY.AZ
International Bank of Azerbaijan Chairman Jahangir Hajiyev, head of the oil-rich Republic of Azerbaijan's largest commercial bank, will address non-oil sector investment opportunities and developments at the 6th Business and Investment Meeting of the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) on Thursday, April 27, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC.

"IBA's participation will offer unique, pragmatic insights to U.S. trade partners, investors and new-to-market companies about opportunities and growth in the non-oil sector, the banking industry and a growing range of enterprises," USACC Executive Director Seymour Khalilov said.

"We hope this conference is a platform to help US businesses to capitalize on Azerbaijan's unprecedented growth but also on President Aliyev's prioritization of non-oil sector development and equitable distribution of oil wealth."

The International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) is Azerbaijan's largest financial institution and a regional standard-bearer for Western business practices, where IBA holds 61.9 percent of deposits and accounts for 62 percent of domestic loans. IBA has grown rapidly under Chairman Hajiyev's leadership since 2001, launching a national insurance company with
international partners and opening banking branches in Russia and several European capitals. IBA's credit card business, AzeriCard, has expanded exponentially and extended a nationwide franchise of over 500 ATM machines to each province and abroad.

IBA has pioneered critical innovations such as Salary Cards and Pension Cards accelerating penetration of consumer credit facilities to Azerbaijan's general population and extending access to universal banking services. Together with Azerbaijan's State Pension Fund, IBA created an important breakthrough with Pension Cards -- private savings type accounts for payment of entire pensions -- a solution not found anywhere in the CIS, including in Russia. Salary Cards proved another leap forward by creating private direct deposit accounts for employee salaries, including debit and credit functions, used by the lion's share of private companies and state enterprises to meet payroll obligations. IBA has also secured significantloans and lines of credit with the world's major banks and financial institutions, including the U.S. Export Import Bank (Exim).

The International Bank of Azerbaijan has championed national economic development and industrial diversification. IBA investments have successfully begun to break Soviet-era holdover cotton monopolies and their stranglehold on national economic development. Since IBA issued a $50 million credit facility in 2004, cotton production in Azerbaijan has doubled and is expected to double again, already adding 1,500 permanent and 50,000 seasonal jobs. IBA also invested in the rebirth of Azerbaijan's ancient silk industry, collapsed since 1905, creating over 20,000 jobs across 17 regions. Other investments target the revival of tobacco cultivation, modernization of industrial plants, and boosting efficiency in other non-oil sectors.

Azerbaijan is poised for impressive 22 percent GDP growth in 2006 following 17.9 percent expansion in 2005 and a tripling of the size of the economy in the past decade, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) among others. Like Caspian neighbors, growth has been buoyed by oil prices, which rose 75 percent during 2005 and show little sign of falling.

Economists expect the recently opened Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline to double the country's current GDP by 2010.



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