“The future of Postbank would be not easy given the resistance in banking sector”

11.12.2008 | 00:56 Home / News / Articles /

Interview of the Ex-Trustee Manager of “HayPost” Company Hans Boon to Mediamax Agency and Banks.am web-portal

- In July, 2008, the trust management of “HayPost” CJSC was handed over to Eurnekian Group. What was the reason for a change of the “HayPost Trust Management” CJSC - the main shareholder of the “HayPost”?

- The reason of change stems from the requirements from the side of the Eurnekian Group, which were presented at the end of January 2008 as a condition to invest in Postbank. The interest in investing in Postbank had been expressed in September 2007 and several forms of agreements had been concluded with the aim to complete the transaction before 14 December 2007 and thus to create the basis for completion of the CBA licensing process for Postbank, based on the technically approved business plan. It was stated, in both cases, that to secure the successful implementation of the business model, the expertise would continue to be involved.

- In the course of 2 years, for how much was the trust management agreement fulfilled by the Dutch side?

- Much of the trust management agreement has been fulfilled, and in some aspects more, or much more than was stated. Some others in the global postal industry speak of the “ Armenian Miracle”. A major part of the planned 20 master projects were started and partly finalized, as mentioned in the quarterly reports to the Armenian Government. An example is the growth of the domestic mail demand from 1 to 10 million in 2 years, while the plan had been from 1 million to 7 million in 5 years.

Further the renewal of 25 post offices and an important part of the internal organizational and administrative processes were brought to a western modern level. The financial results were strongly improved in 2008 which made it possible that HayPost could invest into the main necessary internal conditions for higher quality, efficiency and security.

Certain elements have not been fulfilled as the environment (legal, regulatory) posed obstacles, stopping the trust management to implement. Many of the solutions or measures for the legal, regulatory and institutional environment issues had been agreed in detail before signing the agreement.

The delay or non-follow up of this part of the agreement by the Armenian side(s) delayed the opportunity to attract reputable institutional investors. However the Armenian side made clear in September 2007 that it would not implement its main commitments, previously agreed as precedent conditions to facilitate the investment if there is no investment in Postbank available. That was also for the Dutch the reason to start thinking of their future involvement, because it is development and not a commercial program.

- What role was played by the Dutch side in “HayPost’ CJSC after the sale of the share package to Eurnekian Group?

- At the request of the Eurnekian Group at the end of August 2008, the role was gradually limited and leading to the complete withdrawal of the Dutch side in December 2008.

- Concerning which items of the Armenian Postbank business-plan, approved by the Central Bank of Armenia in August 2007, were the main discords between the previous and the current shareholders of “HayPost Trust” CJSC?

- The plan prepared by the Dutch side has been prepared on the basis of broad international experience with success cases, diagnosis of HayPost and research of the Armenian market. The model focuses on easy access for everybody, everywhere and anytime. The model is based on a synergy and symbiosis between basic financial services and other services such as postal, communications, retail commerce and e-service. Therefore the post office does not become another “copycat” bank branch but it remains the post office- that is: the people’s portal to the economy.

The post office counters function in that concept as the key physical distribution channel for the Postbank, with a focus on transaction banking.

The business plan of the new Trust manager has not been revealed, and has not been completed with consultations or an opinion of the Dutch. What has been heard is that the model is essentially different, with a focus on creating own ‘branches and counters’ for the Postbank within the postal buildings: it is a split between the Postbank and the Post, and a basis for many questions. Who needs such Postbank, will Armenia be the first country in the world where Postbank takes over the letter mail delivery (at what cost ?) and what is the future for the Post, its staff and its clients? Will they ever be able to enjoy access to internet, e-commerce, e-government, e-learning, international mail order ? But, please ask these questions to the new Trust Manager, it would be useful to know what Armenia can expect.

- What will be the future of the “PostBank” in Armenia?

- For a Postbank proper, the future would be not easy given the resistance in banking sector and their interest to maintain very broad margins. But a Postbank via the 900 post offices would help to create broad-based access to normal and reliable financial services for everybody, and everywhere, ranging from plastic cards, money, easy payment accounts, attractive savings and deposits, pre-authorized consumer credit, export (credit) facilitation for MSMEs, international payments. It would also help to create competition in the small Armenian banking sector.

Mediamax and Banks.am are ready to present to their readers the point of view of “Eurnekian Group” for the future of “HayPost” and “PostBank” and have informed “HayPost” press service on their readiness.

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