In an interview for GlobalMarkets, Artak Hanesyan, Ameriabank’s CEO, explains the bank’s strategy and highlights some of the key reasons for its success in the Armenian market.
Global Markets: What are some of Ameriabank’s main businesses, strengths and competitive advantages?
Artak Hanesyan: Ameriabank believes in the potential and future of the Armenian economy. One of our strengths is our openness to transformation. Realizing our potential, and achieving success, comes not only from recognizing the need for change, but actually leading change and transforming. That is how we successfully navigated through the 2008 global ﬁnancial crisis. That is how we transformed from a leading corporate and investment bank to leading universal bank in Armenia. That is why we have been pursuing digital transformation, investment which prepared us for some of the challenges we all faced in 2020.
Since 2008 we have played a fundamental role in the empowerment of Armenian businesses and the Armenian people. We are the largest ﬁnancial institution in Armenia, committed to bringing exceptional banking services, products and experiences to our clients and partners. Our growth and development has been based on a long-term vision, strategy and set of objectives, rather than on short-term interests. In addition, we have thrived on the trust and longstanding relations with our clients, partners and shareholders. They have inspired us to develop dynamically and transform from a traditional bank to essentially a ﬁnancial and technological ecosystem built around human needs.
Global Markets: What are some of the bank’s key achievements and successful projects over the past 12 months?
Artak Hanesyan: Despite the diﬃculties and challenges faced by the global economy last year, we performed well and achieved some good results. As of the ﬁrst quarter of 2021, Ameriabank maintained its leadership, ranking ﬁrst among Armenian banks by key ﬁnancial indicators, including: assets; liabilities; loans; deposits; proﬁt; and equity capital. In fact, at the end of the ﬁrst quarter, the bank’s ROA and ROE were 1.5% and 14.2%, respectively. We are also leading the Armenian corporate bond market with a share of 26% of the market, and in pursuit of our strategy to transition to universal banking model, we increased the share of retail and SME loans. In addition, we have made signiﬁcant progress in distance and digital banking, with our online banking penetration rate reaching 48% (up by 12pp.) in 2020.
Global Markets: Ameriabank accessed the green bond market for the first time this year. What are your plans to further develop green finance in Armenia?
Artak Hanesyan: Successfully issuing the country’s ﬁrst green bonds was another signiﬁcant achievement for the bank in the past year. We issued a total of €42m of green bonds in close cooperation with our long-term partner, FMO, which is a public-private development bank and an anchor investor in the bonds. Sustainalytics has veriﬁed our Green Bond Framework’s alignment with the international green bond principles and global market standards in its second-party opinion. The funding raised via green bonds provides an unrivalled opportunity to ﬁnance green projects that contribute to environmental sustainability. As for the plans for the future, we aim to become the leading green bank in Armenia and look forward to greater cooperation with our partners.
Global Markets: In what digital technologies does Ameriabank see the greatest potential? What are Ameriabank’s key priorities for 2021 and strategic goals for the future?
Artak Hanesyan: To succeed, a bank needs to adapt to rapidly changing environment. Our priorities for the current year are further digital transformation and diversiﬁcation. Accordingly, we are consistently expanding the capacity of distance banking, improving the quality of digital services, increasing the share of retail and SME loans, simultaneously setting the goal of double-digit growth of the loan portfolio. This will help us achieve our strategic goals, such as enhancing the performance eﬃciency, achieving further growth in key ﬁnancial indicators, ensuring high satisfaction of our clients, partners, team and shareholders, as well as maintaining an absolute leadership in the ﬁnancial market of Armenia.
Global Markets: In a number of recent interviews, your international partners have mentioned that Ameriabank is ready for IPO. What plans does Ameriabank have for an IPO?
Artak Hanesyan: Over the past few years, we have become the largest bank in the country and achieved the highest level of cooperation with international partners. We are also constantly improving our corporate governance. An IPO would be a very important strategic milestone for us and would help support our long-term growth plans. Being a public company also means that we follow best practice in corporate governance, reporting and transparency. In this regard, I am proud to state that we already operate like a public company, being one of the exceptional companies in Armenia with a corporate governance system in compliance with IPO prerequisites. We are constantly following international capital markets, our listed peers, and have set relevant benchmarks for a successful IPO. We will launch the IPO process once we reach our mid-term targets. Timing will also depend on market conditions. As important as this is for the bank, it should also be said that whatever we do to support our growth and development, it has one ultimate goal – to help improve the quality of life. The formula of our success is transformational mindset and trust in the potential of our team, our country and economy we live and work in.