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“Finabank Offers Tailor-made Solutions to IOCs, Global and Local Suppliers” – Almar Giesberts


In this interview, Ndubuisi Micheal Obineme, Managing Editor of The Energy Republic talks to Almar Giesberts, Chief Commercial Officer at FinaBank, about the Bank’s deliverables in the Suriname energy sector.

Within its investment framework, FinaBank plays a pivotal role in providing financial solutions to International Oil Companies (IOCs), global and local suppliers doing business in the country’s energy sector. Excerpts:

TER: What is the role of Finabank in the Suriname energy sector?

ALMAR: Finabank is a fully diversified bank offering solutions to global companies, corporates, SMEs, high-net-worth individuals, and retail clients. We play as one of the system banks in Suriname, an important role in keeping the financial system healthy.

Finabank is leading in terms of governance, risk management, profitability, and sound banking ratios. We are the only institution in Suriname with a credit risk rating (local A/A+).

The energy sector is a strategic sector for the bank as we focus on providing banking solutions to IOCs and global and local suppliers.

To IOCs and global suppliers, we offer host-to-host payment solutions in addition to general banking solutions.

To local suppliers, we focus on offering tailor-made financing solutions, e.g. based on contracts.

TER: Why is Suriname a top investment priority for Finabank? How has the Bank’s fund been allocated?

ALMAR: With the oil developments, Suriname is a top investment priority with opportunities in the oil and gas sector, agriculture, food, logistics, production, and tourism.

To empower local developments and entrepreneurship, we offer special rates and conditions to customers in agriculture, production, tourism, and IT.

Empowering entrepreneurship stimulates economic growth, and innovation, creates jobs, and enhances overall well-being.

TER: What are some of the businesses Finabank has financed over the years in the Caribbean region/Suriname?

ALMAR: We have a 24% market share in Suriname and have financed many businesses in various sectors including infrastructure projects such as airports and ports. 8% of our lending portfolio is in the region.

We are financing businesses in several countries such as Guyana, Jamaica, Antiqua, Peru, and Chile.

TER: How does Finabank operate within its investment framework and what value does it add in terms of sustainable development?

ALMAR: ESG covenants are part of our lending contracts. We empower our clients to start developing ESG policies and start phased implementation. This is important to become better suppliers for the IOCs as well.

To empower sustainable development in the community, we are dedicating 5% of our funding base to financing sustainable projects and investments.

We are focused on offering sustainability loans against special rates to:

  • support the transition towards green energy
  • finance sustainable projects and investments to create a sustainable lifestyle
  • empower entrepreneurship amongst women, and minority groups, to stimulate economic growth

TER: What are some of the challenges the Bank has faced in implementing its investment strategy?

ALMAR: As we are growing fast, we continuously re-invent ourselves. We established an energy desk to cater to the specific needs of the IOCs and its global suppliers.

For our international financing activities, we established a merchant banking department that focuses on regional financing opportunities.

We implemented tailored products such as purchase order and invoice financing which is not a common banking practice in Suriname.

To enable our further growth, we developed with IOCs a host-to-host solution in which the banking system is connected to the banking system of the IOC through SWIFT.

TER: Looking forward to the next 5-10 years, what are Finabank’s plans for Suriname?

ALMAR: We further expand our business into the Caribbean, LatAm, and the Netherlands, increase our local market share, expand our products and service offerings, and transform into a digital bank.

We want to diversify our funding base by issuing international/regional bonds.

TER: You are a speaker at this year’s Suriname Energy, Oil, and Gas Summit (SEOGS) 2024. What are your major talking points?

ALMAR: Suriname needs to start, continue developing and financing infrastructure projects such as ports, shore bases, port facilities, and airports as well as support the corporate and SME sector in Suriname.

Businesses should adapt to the requirements of the IOCs and global suppliers quickly to cater to their needs, considering ESG topics.

Banks need to have a more flexible approach toward lending, e.g. based on contracts, purchase orders, or invoices.

For larger loans, banks should partner with each other and other financial institutions locally and abroad to address the capital need.

Finabank has started to develop in this direction to be prepared for the oil and gas opportunities.

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