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Abu Dhabi Group buys Standard Bank

By Christina Tashkevich
Thursday, March 13
The UAE-based Abu Dhabi Group has purchased Georgia’s Standard Bank from equity company Salford Capital, a fund tied to recently deceased business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili.

Salford Capital, which acquired the bank in 2005, announced last week it has sold 100 percent equity interest to the KOR Bank, owned by Abu Dhabi Group.

Bashir Tahir, chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Group, told the Messenger the deal was worth USD 42 million.

In November, the National Bank of Georgia appointed a temporary state administrator to Standard Bank, citing liquidity problems. However, lawyers representing Salford Capital suggested the move was connected to the company’s links with Badri Patarkatsishvili, who was under suspicion of organizing a coup.

“We strongly believe that Standard Bank customers have been under pressure since November 8 to withdraw their funds from the bank,” Irakli Rukhadze, chairman of the Supervisory Board of Standard Bank, said at a November press conference.

Last week, however, Standard Bank released a statement seeming to acknowledge liquidity problems existed at the time.

“On behalf of Salford and all shareholders of Standard Bank, I wish to thank the National Bank of Georgia for conducting the temporary administration competently,” Rukhadze said in a separate statement.

Abu Dhabi Group, owned by a member of UAE ruling family of the Gulf emirate, announced its plans to invest in the banking, telecommunication, tourism and real estate sectors in Georgia last month.

Abu Dhabi Group’s Bashir Tahir told the Messenger it will concentrate on modernizing the bank and introducing new banking services to clients.

He also said KOR Bank will focus on consumer and investment banking, as well as on asset management and insurance.

In an interview last month Tahir praised Georgia for having “a great environment” in the banking sector.