Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

FOREIGN BANKS DO NOT TRUST BULGARIAN EXPERTS

Vladimir Vladimirov, Chief Executive Director of ROSSEXIMBANK, to the BANKER weekly

Mr. Vladimirov, you worked for almost three years in Bulgarian Post Bank, which was acquired by foreign investors. What can't they offer to the Bulgarian banking manager?
- First of all I would like to point out that Bulgarian Post Bank is one of the best credit institutions, operating on the local market. It has shown very good financial results and has a considerable potential for development. Telling the truth, foreign shareholders grant everything necessary (according to their criteria) for the bank's development. However, they face difficulties in establishing an unified management. In my opinion, a bank working on the local market should be managed by people living in Bulgaria who are well-acquainted with business in this country. It is right for law-makers to adopt at least one thing from the banking regulations in Germany where a person who does not speak the language is not allowed to be a banker, because a banker should be able to read and understand legislative stipulations at least.
Foreigns who are appointed to the management of Bulgarian credit institutions usually have high self-confidence, but they are not acquainted with the local financial markets. That's why they normally need quite a long period to adapt to the realities in our country. For that reason, the management of privatized banks often lacks coordination and that delays the development of these credit institutions.
I believe that foreign owners of the privatized banks should have more confidence in their Bulgarian management. In the first few post-privatisation years at least, the operational management of these banks should be entrusted to Bulgarians, who will be introducing their foreign colleagues into the specifics of the local financial market. Moreover, foreigners should be staying longer in Bulgaria in order to achieve proper coordination between the individual members of the managerial teams. Currently, their manadates are three years at the most. Thus, just when somebody gets acquainted with the details of the Bulgarian marker, he has to leave and is replaced by someone new who should yet get into the swing of the business. This creates problems to the sucessful management of a bank.

Are foreign owners of local banks biased against Bulgarian managers?
- Yes, there is such bias, although Bulgarian bankers are not worse professionals than the foreigners who are appointed to the management of our credit institutions. We even have the advantage of our long experience on the local financial market. If foreign shareholders become aware of this, they will evade a lot of complications connected with the develeopment of the banks they have acquired.

Foreign investors presently control over 80% of the local banking sector. Do you think their hegemony could be crushed by banks, which are in the hands of Bulgarian shareholders?
- If our banks unite their efforts to attract more clients, direct their attention to the expansion of services, and increase their capital (policies that are pursued by ROSSEXIMBANK), they will gradually start to expand their share on the domestic financial market. The ultimate aim of such policies is the establishment of big credit institutions with Bulgarian shareholders, that would assist the country's economy and promote its development. As far as ROSSEXIMBANK is concerned, we intend to quickly expand its presence on the Bulgarian market, and one of the ways to achieve that is to buy the assets of the bankrupt BALKANBANK and Credit Bank. We are also bidding for the stake of the Bank Consolidation Company in Central Cooperative Bank, but that deal is not of a primary importance to us.

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