9. Dynamic Banking Sector
Following banking reforms enacted in Georgia in 1994-1997, state banks were completely privatized and restructured. Today 100% of the banking sector is private and it is one of the most dynamic sectors of the Georgian economy. During the last 5 years, the number of banking customers has increased very rapidly, with deposits by individuals and companies increasing 25-35% a year. Banks are experiencing an average return on assets of 3-5% and return on investments of 14-18%.
Georgia was one of the first countries to completely liberalize capital account transactions and currency regimes. As a result, any limits on capital repatriation and currency operations both for residents and non-residents were cancelled. Residents have the right to have current accounts opened with banks in foreign countries.
Residents and non-residents of Georgia may make investments in commercial banks based in Georgia under equal terms and conditions. In recent years significant foreign investments have been made in Georgia’s Banking Sector, including:
- In July 2007, HSBC obtained an operating license from the National Bank of Georgia. HSBC will start operation in November 2007.
- In November 2006, Bank of Georgia became the second bank from a CIS country to be listed on the London Stock Exchange when it successfully placed its shares in the form of Global Depository Receipts on the LSE.
- Group “Societe Generale” acquired the controlling stake in Bank Republic in March 2006.
- In October 2005, Kazakh bank Turan Alem, one of the largest banks in the CIS, acquired the controlling stake in Silk Road Bank.
- In January 2005, VTB bank of Russia acquired 51 percent of shares of United Georgian Bank, one of the top three banks in Georgia.
- In addition, subsidiaries and branches of commercial banks from Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Germany are operating in the Georgian market.