After Liberty Bank and TBC Bank have refuted President Saakashvili’s claims about stake sale to Russian banks, the Georgian President expressed “regret” for saying “something incorrect.”
He, however, insisted that one of the Georgian banks was in talks on “merger” with one of the Russian banks.
“I re-checked what I said about the banks yesterday. Some information that I had fortunately was not confirmed and I regret if I said something incorrect,” Saakashvili told journalists in Tbilisi airport before departure to Baku on February 27.
“I know for sure that Russian banks are interested in buying Georgian banks. I know for sure that one of the banks that I mentioned is now negotiating a merger deal with one of Russia’s largest banks; that’s really so and they probably will not deny it. If I mistook banks, that was really unintentional and I really did not want to create any problems for the banks,” Saakashvili said. “I want the banking sector in Georgia to be strong and independent and I will watch closely that [Georgian banking sector] not to go in hands of those banks which are owned by the state which has unhealthy interest towards Georgia.”
President Saakashvili said on February 26 that he had information about “selling” of Liberty Bank to Russia’s Sberbank from the Georgian central bank.
But Georgian National Bank said in a brief statement on February 27 that it “possesses no information” about reported change of shareholders either in TBC or Liberty banks.
Russia’s state-controlled Sberbank also denied buying shares of a bank in Georgia.
“Sberbank has identified Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan as priority areas for its development in the territory of the former USSR. Therefore, Sberbank has no plans to buy assets in Georgia,” RIA Novosti news agency reported quoting a Sberbank spokesperson on February 27.