Investors are willing to pay more for reliable and secure cooperation when they see the right level of management in their bank. A striking example of such a bank in Ukraine is Megabank, and this article looks at how it attracts international investments.
Megabank is one of the oldest and largest commercial banks in independent Ukraine. The bank has been operating on the market for 31 years. It has more than 700,000 customers, about 1,500 highly qualified employees, and 155 branches in 19 regions of the country. Megabank not only provides classic banking services, but also offers innovations. Its unique service is the Integral Clearing Center for utilities and other payments, serving more than 2.2 million accounts. The bank was also one of the first to join the development of neo-banking in Ukraine, launching the mobile bank todobank.
Ukrainian Megabank upholds principles close to those of a modern European bank. In its activities, the bank adheres to high European and world standards while introducing best practices and new approaches.
Megabank set a course to attract foreign shareholders back in 2005.
“This was our strategic vision, because we planned to develop the bank in partnership with foreign financial institutions, in order to bring not only its reputation, but also its knowledge and experience to what was a fairly young banking market in Ukraine at that time,” said Oleksii Iatsenko, Chairman of the Board of Megabank JSC.
Thus, Megabank became a unique case in Ukraine, being a bank with three major international financial institutions as shareholders: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), KfW Development Bank and the World Bank Group ̶ International Finance Corporation (IFC), of which it is a member.
“Thanks to foreign capital and the global experience of our shareholders, we can do more than any other bank. Megabank guarantees stability and European quality of service, helping its customers to realise their financial goals and dreams,” said Oleksii.
During that same year of 2005, Megabank was the first among Ukrainian banks to introduce corporate governance and the position of a corporate secretary to ensure the bank’s efficient operation and reliability. This project to improve corporate governance was implemented jointly with IFC. The system, which helps to reconcile the interests of shareholders, depositors, management and employees of the bank, has been working efficiently and effectively for 16 years.
In 2006, David N. Cleave, an independent director and specialist in international banking, was elected to the bank’s Supervisory Board. His candidacy was offered by IFC.
Furthermore, in 2011 Megabank entered the top ten of Ukrainian companies in terms of quality of corporate governance, according to the ratings compiled by the investment company Concorde Capital together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
In order to ensure stable operation of the bank in the long term, Megabank JSC has developed and approved the Code of Corporate Governance and the Code of Conduct (Ethics). In 2021, the bank has developed a strategy for its development for the period of 2021-2025, which provides for an increase in return on assets up to 2.5% and an increase in return on equity up to 15% by the end of 2025. It is also planning to increase capitalisation by 70% by increasing the bank’s profitability. The bank plans to achieve such results by developing lending to SMEs and micro-business segments, as well as retail lending products such as the neobank todobank and consumer and mortgage loans.
Megabank has built a strong system consisting of the Management Board, Supervisory Board and Committees of the Supervisory Board, enabling interaction with the bank’s shareholders. All this provides for improvement to the bank’s management and increases its efficiency as a financial institution.
Self-control is another feature of Megabank. Annually, in accordance with the requirements of the National Bank of Ukraine, Megabank undergoes an external audit in accordance with international standards. For 20 years, the bank has been audited by the Big Four, the world’s four largest auditing and consulting companies: Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG. Today the bank cooperates with the British company Ernst & Young.
Four of the seven members of the bank’s Supervisory Board are independent, and not representatives of any of the shareholders. Desmond O’Maonaigh, who is experienced in international banking, is an independent member of the supervisory board and serves as Chairman of the Supervisory Board.
In 2020, on the initiative of the members of the bank’s Supervisory Board, the international consulting company Nestor Advisors conducted an assessment of the effectiveness of the Supervisory Board and the Management Board, and prepared a report with recommendations. Almost all of Nestor Advisors’ recommendations have been implemented, which has allowed the Supervisory Board and the Management Board to work more efficiently. The bank also passed an external evaluation of the internal audit department by Kreston GCG.
Megabank operates as a universal bank, having strong competencies in support of small, medium and retail businesses. The bank has extensive and unique experience in Ukraine in attracting partners and programmes to support this segment in particular.
Since 2007, it has entered into 62 agreements with 18 foreign partners to raise funding totalling USD 363 million.
Today, among the international partner organisations of Megabank are European Investment Bank, Triodos Bank, BlueOrchard Microfinance Fund, responsAbility, KfW, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
As of July 2021, within the framework of agreements with these investors, Megabank JSC is implementing 9 long-term programmes equivalent to USD 86 million.
“In working with foreign partners, one thing is fundamental for us: the complete and timely fulfilment of commitments under loan agreements. We often manage to repay loans early. Our cooperation makes our partners feel comfortable and confident. That is why, perhaps, we are so trusted,” said Oleksii Iatsenko.
Throughout years of cooperation with foreign lenders, Megabank has managed not only to implement local projects, but also to influence the development of Ukraine’s economic potential in general. The bank has been able to diversify services for individuals, e.g. the consumer lending programme, with regard to two targeted loans in particular: for the purchase of agricultural machinery, and for energy saving in housing.
In addition, it has managed to increase the portfolio of microloans for SMEs, and implement and stimulate the development of projects focused on energy saving, environmental protection, development of farming and agricultural enterprises to support Ukrainian exports, and women’s entrepreneurship.
The bank is currently working on a European Investment Bank project for lending to small and medium-sized enterprises and mid-cap companies.
Megabank is proactive in its social responsibility; it was the first bank in Ukraine – and so far, the only one – to become an associate member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values.
“We have purposefully joined GABV because the values of the Association include responsible banking, which involves the use of finance to ensure sustainable economic, social and environmental development. These are also the values of Megabank today,” Oleksii explained.
Within the framework of the bank’s social responsibility, the priority areas of financing for the bank are energy efficiency, modernisation of equipment and machinery (in particular, the capacity of utilities which entails a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions), transition to electric cars, energy saving technologies in construction, and alternative energy. The bank also considers it its social responsibility to participate in local government initiatives on public access to digital services.
This results from an appropriate level of corporate governance within the bank, in line with risk management processes, compliance, interaction with shareholders, implementation of KPI principles and social responsibility, all of which enables Megabank to be more efficient and attractive to foreign investors.