BELGRADE (Serbia), December 10 (SeeNews) – Serbia’s Opportunity Bank has increased its market share of loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and farmers to about 4.5% in 2009 from 3.0% last year, the bank's executive board member Vladimir Vukotic said on Thursday.
“Our plan is to continue increasing this market share next year,” Vukotic told a news conference.
According to Opportunity Bank's executive board president Rodger Voorhies, the overall asset size of the loans has not grown as fast as the number of clients due to the economic slowdown.
“Because of the crisis we chose to lower the average loan size because we don’t want to give people too much debt,” Voorhies told the same news conference, adding that the bank’s client base grew by 32% in 2009, while savings rose 11% during the same period. He gave no figures.
The bank turned to 105 million dinars ($1.6 million/1.0 million euro) in pre-tax loss through September from a pre-tax profit of 13 million dinars a year ago.
Opportunity Bank, based in Novi Sad, has lent close to 85 million euro ($125 million) to micro and small companies since it started operations in Serbia in 2002, Voorhies said.
It ranked 32nd among 34 banks that operated in Serbia at the end of September with total assets of 4.3 billion dinars, according to central bank data.
Opportunity Transformation Investments Inc., which holds equity in Opportunity Banks around the world, owns 63.51% of Serbia’s Opportunity Bank, followed by the EBRD with a 19.11% stake. The Netherlands Development Finance Company owns 12.74%, while the remaining 4.64% is owned by privately held Oikocredit Financing Cooperative that lends money to SMEs involved in agriculture, trade, services and manufacturing.
(1 euro=95.9201 Serbian dinars)