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Awash International Bank (AIB), the oldest private bank in the country, after the endorsement of market economy,
has approved around 150 million birr loan to the Derba Midroc group owned by the Ethiopian-born Saudi business tycoon Sheik Mohamed Hussein Al Amoudi. Reliable sources close to Capital disclosed that AIB, one of the biggest private bank in the country, approved the loan for one of Derba’s investments in the country. Sources at the bank told Capital that Sheik Al Amoudi paid a visit to the bank and met with Tsehay Shiferaw, President of AIB, early on July 6, 2013 to conclude the deal. According to insiders, the loan will be used to set up a petrochemical plant under the Derba Midroc Group, an amalgam of different industries.
Awash will be the first private bank that has put forward such a loan. A year ago the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) approved a 942 million birr loan to MIDROC Ethiopia Project Office (MEPO).
850 million birr was for the construction completion of the Grand African Union Hotel, located behind the African Union Commission’s HQ, and the balance for the construction of MIDROC’s Maya PP bag factory.
The PP bag factory, which is under the Derba Midroc Group, is managed by Haile Asegide, former State minister of Urban Development and Works. The factory provides plastic bag packaging for the packing of cement and rice produces of Derba Midroc Cement (DMC) and the Saudi Star Agriculture Development, respectively.
Derba Midroc Group, which is one of the newest firms established by Al Amoudi, has several industries operating under it. In addition to cement and agriculture investment, Derba has also numerous other investments; Derba Transport, Maya PP Bag, Derba Lime and Chemicals, Toussa Steel Mill and Dashen Cement.
In the past, the businessman secured loans from state-owned banks like CBE and the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) for projects, but has never secured a loan from local private banks.
MIDROC received, a few years ago, USD 110 million in financing for the investment of DMC, from the International Financial Cooperation (IFC), a private wing of the World Bank, and the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), making the company the first Ethiopian private firm that secured a loan from IFC.
Awash International’s paid-up capital has reached one billion birr as of end of May according to information on its website. Hence its paid-up capital is double the minimum requirement of 500 million birr as set by the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE). NBE, the financial institutions’ regulatory body , has instructed all banks to reach the minimum requirement by mid 2016. This indicates that AIB is one of the strongest private banks, if not the strongest, in terms of paid -up capital. The Bank’s total capital, including reserves, is also 2 billion birr as of May 2013.
To further strengthen the capital base of the Bank, in line with the decision of the 12th extraordinary meeting of shareholders held in November 2012, the Bank decided to raise the paid-up capital to 1.5 billion birr within the next two years.
In addition to that, the extensive network of branches of AIB has reached 112 by end of May 2013, up from 86 at the end of June 2012, which also makes it the leader among private banks, and a great asset in mobilizing huge deposits.
According to information from the Bank’s website, the total assets of the bank rose to over 19 billion birr by the end of April 2013, while total deposits reached 12 billion birr. On the other hand, total loans and advances extended to different sectors of the economy approximately reached 7 billion birr.
Awash launched modern electronic payment products using Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) and Point of Sale (POS) terminals on July 05 2012 jointly with Nib international Bank (NIB) and United Bank (UB), by deploying shared switch-card payment system infrastructures through Premiere Switch Solutions S.C, a share company the three banks established.
Tsehay, President of AIB, declined to comment about the issue when approached by Capital for comments.