Sustainability is the basic financing principle for NLB Group, Member of the Executive Board of Komercijalna banka Dubravka Đedović Nègre told Balkan Green Energy News. Ahead of the lender’s integration with NLB Bank in Serbia into NLB Komercijalna banka, she pointed out in an interview that financing conditions would be improving for companies that are making progress in reporting on their goals and achievements in environmental, social and corporate governance – ESG.
Komercijalna banka, a member of the NLB Group for over a year now, will unite with NLB Bank in Serbia on April 29 into NLB Komercijalna banka. In the light of the upcoming merger, we spoke to Dubravka Đedović Nègre, Member of the Executive Board of Komercijalna banka responsible for corporate and investment banking, about to goals with regard to the green transition and the possibilities for clients to make their businesses greener.
NLB Group is developing a platform for approving financing requests in such a way that on the one hand it stimulates the development of ESG projects, and on the other it secures long-term financing while considering innovative possibilities for those who do business in line with the rules of sustainable development and circular economy, she said in an interview with Balkan Green Energy News.
Dubravka Đedović Nègre came to Komercijalna banka after leading the European Investment Bank’s regional office for the Western Balkans. She has rich international experience in financing large corporations, investments and projects in the field of transport, energy, telecommunications, innovation, health and other industries, but also small and medium enterprises.
Prior to joining the EIB in Belgrade, she was in charge of public-private partnership projects and project financing in Ireland, France, the United Kingdom and the Benelux countries.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance from the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade, and a master’s degree in finance and management from the SDA Bocconi University in Milan and the Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles. She is a guest lecturer for master’s studies at University College London.
How significant are the green energy sector and other forms of sustainable development for the banking sector in Serbia? What is new in your business policy in that field with regard to Komercijalna banka’s entry into NLB Group?
With a presence in six Southeastern European markets and almost three million active clients, our parent NLB Group is one of the leading banking groups based in and exclusively focusing on our region, which for us is not just a point on the map, but our home. It means we are not just a business entity, but an active participant in creating positive change.
Our group activities emanate from a comprehensive strategy directed toward the development of this region’s sustainable future, and we are conducting them both independently and by joining forces with key sectors, so that we can achieve the best and most significant results possible as quickly as possible.
Đedović Nègre: Komercijalna banka is an active participant in creating positive change
NLB Group formalized its sustainability principle all the way back in 2011 and confirmed it in 2020, placing it in the center of its business actions and integrating it with all its banking decisions. Last year we also began to develop a completely new platform, with which we will approve financing requests in a way that we stimulate the development of ESG projects on the one hand and demotivate those that don’t operate in line with the principles of sustainable development and circular economy on the other.
It is a good example of how banks, through their streamlined operations, can support and stimulate the development of national economies toward even stronger sustainability, and justify the responsibility they have been given.
Are you currently preparing to participate in any renewable energy projects and, if so, under which model?
Komercijalna banka has so far always supported investments and projects into energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
By becoming a member of NLB Group, it enhanced further its focus on sustainable development, with a desire to offer clients such financing and support models that would allow them to achieve their ESG goals as simply as possible. It relates primarily to investment loans for achieving energy efficiency, project finance, refinancing greenfield projects for renewable energy sources as well as financing projects and investments through public-private partnerships.
Apart from that, our bank has the capacities, but also motivation, to support projects that would be based on the auction model – both within its parent NLB Group and in partnership with other banks, but not ruling out other models.
Does Komercijalna banka plan to raise capital to finance sustainable development in Serbia?
We have to acknowledge that renewable energy project financing on our market may not have reached the level we want. However, the previous investment wave, but also the motivation of existing investors to develop new projects and increase their capacities in Serbia are a great starting point for further investments.
NLB Group intends to increase investments in solar power plants, wind parks and biogas and biomass projects
In line with its strategic ESG orientation, NLB Group is planning to significantly increase the share of green financing, and it has the appetite to support projects in development, with a focus on financing solar, wind parks and biogas / biomass. We expect the renewables regulatory framework to be completed this year and that way to enable the start of auctions, in which our bank intends to be a very active participant.
It is crucial to point out that Komercijalna banka has high capital adequacy and own liquidity, which puts us in a great position for strategic planning of future investments.
Are corporate financing conditions different for energy efficiency measures, the introduction of circulary economy principles and similar endeavors than for energy in the fossil fuel segment or general investments in firms?
Flexibility and accepting individual differences are at the core of our business. It means that we always give advantage, instead of universal terms, to those that are adjusted for the specific needs of each client or project.
As awareness rises in our market and as clients become more transparent in presenting their ESG goals and strategies, our ability to support them additionally and provide them with even better conditions for green and sustainable development financing will also grow.
How do investments in sustainable development affect your business clients’ balances and credit ratings?
Having in mind the European Union’s current goals with regard to sustainable development, we are convinced that we would witness exponential growth in awareness in our market as well of the need to identify ESG goals and work on activities that secure sustainable growth and development. We are already witnessing that big corporations are actively working on creating conditions for the green transition and good ESG ratings, which will become an equally important indicator of success as the credit rating.
Such strategies and activities in particular will lead to unlocking access to additional financing sources under even more favorable conditions and enable the involvement of an even bigger number of projects and companies.
What are the bank’s midterm and long-term objectives in this area?
As a systemic bank, empowered by knowledge, expertise and the best ESG practices throughout the NLB Group, our goal for the forthcoming period is to profile ourselves as a leader in financing of green projects using renewable energy sources, but also to contribute to the growth in the number of projects and companies in this segment and to the development of energy stability of the entire country.