Monday, May 12, 2014

Cuba hosts Russian-led bank meeting

CUBA STANDARD — Joining a Russian-led effort, Cuba hosted a two-day meeting of the International Investment Bank (IIB) in Havana.

Surging amid the conflict in Ukraine, the IIB is an apparent attempt by Russia to revive some of the economic influence the Soviet Union enjoyed in Eastern Europe and elsewhere during Cold War times. IIB intends to be a “modern multilateral financial institution” that fosters development of its member states.

Founded in 1970 by the member states of the former Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), Russia revived the institution beginning in 2012. In rapid succession over the past eight weeks, IIB was joined by European Union members Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Czech Republic, as well as Mongolia, Vietnam and Cuba. The Russian Federation, which controls 58%, is the main shareholder.

While contributions from member countries are designed to be the main source of capital, IIB placed a bond issue in April, amid difficult market conditions. The euro is the bank’s balance-sheet currency.

IIB has funded several projects in Mongolia and eastern Europe. According to IIB Vice Chairman Denis Ivanov, the bank is planned to have a loan portfolio of euro 350 million (US$442 million) by the end of this year, and reach up to euro 1 billion ($1.38 billion) by the end of 2017. As of April, IIB was analyzing five new projects.

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