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30.05.2007

SUSTAINABLE BANK IN TRANSITION ECONOMY

Commercial Bank Center-invest was shortlisted in the worldwide contest “Sustainable Banking Awards” organized by The Financial Times and International Finance Corporation (IFC).

This event is unique for the Russian banking community since Center-invest Bank is the first Russian bank which took part in this contest and came through to the final, competing with such outstanding banks as Barclays (UK), Banco do Brasil (Brasil), Сiti India (India) and Compartamos Banamex (Citigroup) (Mexico) (http://ftconferences.co.uk/sustainablebanking/awardsinfo.asp) Lars Thunell, Head of the IFC, said: "The number of entries and the quality of the shortlist show that more and more banks see the benefits of integrating sustainability into their business." (http://search.ft.com/ftArticle)

The term “sustainability” characterizes business activity which takes responsibility for the development in the long-term outlook on the basis of its own economic and social programs realization. The award is designed to recognise the progress banks are making in integrating social, environmental and corporate governance objectives into their operations while maximising shareholder value (www.ft.com). From this angle the success of Center-invest is natural.

The Bank Center-invest was established in 1992 by first privatized enterprises of the South of Russia to support its sustainable development. The following years the Bank helped the population and companies of the South of Russia to maintain stability during the process of reforms, contributed to formation of securities market, investment projects market, debt instruments market, introduction of world best practice in accounting, corporate governance, environmental protection, energy efficiency project realization and in small business support.

Thus, the Bank Center-invest deserved to be called “laboratory of reforms in the South of Russia” by its partners, scientists, politicians and official establishment. About 30 Bank’s top managers are either Doctors or Masters of Science degree. Scientific works of the Center-invest’s managers “Privatization in Russia – a way to the big business” (1993), “NON-PAY-MENTS” (1996), “Five years of reforms on Don land” (1997), “Small Business: made in Russia” (Dr.V.Vysokov) became verypopular.

The Bank Center-invest works out special social programs for schoolchildren on Internet education and South of Russia’s historical and cultural study. The best 150 students receive scholarships from the Bank Center-invest and over 2000 war veterans are participants in Bank’ special charity programs.

In May this year the Bank Center-invest founded an endownment fund “Education and science of South Federal District”. It is the first fund of such kind established in the South of Russia. Its profit will be channeled to support students, scientists and professors of the institutes of higher education in the region.

The Bank Center-invest with assistance of IFC became the first bank to introduce the code of corporate governance (2004) and today it actively advocates corporate governance principles among its clients. Implementation of the world best practice in corporate governance by the Bank Center-invest is proved by the presence of EBRD, DEG in the shareholders structure and by the fact that Ernst Welteke, ex-president of Bundesbank, became the independent member of the Board of Directors of Center-invest.

In 1997 the Bank Center-invest was the first Bank to develop and implement the program of support of small enterprises of the region. This program facilitated small business legalization. At present over 20 000 of small enterprises and entrepreneurs are the clients of the Bank thus placing the Bank on the 8th place in Russia by loans to small enterprises.

In 2006 the Bank together with IFC successfully realized the first energy efficiency program which resulted in 250 tons of СО2 emission reduction per year.

All these achievements have scientific basis developed by Vasily Vysokov, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bank Center-invest, Professor, Doctor of economics. Professor Vysokov is the author of over 200 monographies and articles devoted to transition economies. In his thesis for a Doctor’s degree (1995) professor Vysokov defined the principles of sustainable development in transition economy:

  • success of reforms lies not in radicalism of certain steps but in correlation of all measures;
  • reforms disrupt social stability, therefore they should be aimed to restore it at every stage ;
  • reforms gain power only when they reach out the masses;
  • reforms are not slogans but adopted and implemented laws;
  • the winners are those who are one step ahead of the others.

Thus, the success of the Bank Center-invest in the Sustainability Award, organized by FT and IFC is also a proof of scientific concept of sustainable development in transition economy developed by the Russian Professor Vysokov .

In his most recent book “Investment appeal of the South of Russia” Professor Vysokov gave a comprehensive analysis of the South of Russia’s economy in the breakdown of producer and consumer markets, infrastructural market, financial and investment markets and described the strategy of sustainable development of the South of Russia.