This is a summary of interview that appeared on Daily News on 18th of February, 2014. D.Bayasgalan is 100% owner of Bodi International Group which is the 85% shareholder of Golomt Bank.
D.Bayasgalan shed some lights on what has been going on in the bank and made clarifications on many issues:
Abu Dhabi Investment Council
– Abu Dhabi Investment Council invested USD25 million which is 14% of the bank as of 2009. Golomt Bank management decided that it would not go public before 2015 until the investment environment in the country and global financial situation stabilizes. Last year’s strife between the shareholders also, influenced their decision on pulling their investment early. It also demanded 36% of the bank’s share value. However, it also requires a consent from Bank of Mongolia. They can sell the 14% of the convertible instrument to anyone who is willing to purchase. No one has to lose. In addition, it made us to revise the foreign investment participation of the bank which started in 2007. Some foreign investors do not care about the long-term condition, strategy and future of the bank and aim to make quick profit.
– Loan from Credit Suisse Bank was paid in full. Swiss-Mo Investment AG owns 10%, and Trafigura Beheer BV owns around 5%, and lent USD8.7 million to Bodi International. Everything is in the balance sheet. I see nothing wrong in this. This is a usual business operation. However, I do not know where they came up with the figure USD90 million. Maybe they misunderstood.
– Due to the growing foreign investments in the country back in 2007, our bank wanted to hire an experienced CEO and learn things we do not know. Therefore, we hired John Finigan that year. I don’t deny that he worked hard to understand the situation and improve the bank’s operations. However, as time passed, he started becoming more careless on his daily job and he was where there was an international conference or a diplomatic gathering. He started advertising himself as one of few experts who knows the country, and adjunct advisor to the country’s President, then started losing focus on the job. Also, he didn’t perform some of his duties. Then, we found out that he planned to stay in the position for 3-4 years longer, and saw the bank as his last resort to make himself wealthy. I never imagined him trying to stay in the position by any means necessary, and use or partner with our former-shareholder and MP L.Bold to achieve that goal. The last year’s strife started from here.
I had no choice but to replace him to protect the bank’s common interest. There is no single bank in the world that serves to support someone’s luxury life and facilitate his desired trips abroad any time he wants. Mongolian banks are here for serving its customers, not as a quick money making tool. To save his position, John Fingian deliberately misrepresented that Golomt Bank is to make a loss from Itochu’s L/C. I would like to reiterate that we do not have any pending payment issues with Itochu. However, L.Bold paid USD1.6 million to re-audit the bank. It required some time. Then, the bank failed to release the final report due to the additional auditing process. In relation to the official report, the rating was also delayed. It doesn’t mean that we have totally lost our rating. Since we resolved these issues last November, our bank formed its board of directors, completed the auditing, and started new page for our page. Soon, the audit will release its 2013 report, and ratings will be re-established. Also, we started negotiations with foreign investors interested in buying shares in the bank.
Official reports indicate 11-12% growth which implies growth. However, business sector representatives say things are getting tougher. Politicians want to believe what they like. Therefore, people surrounding the government agencies are giving what they want to hear. Personally, I think our economy is not doing well. The authoritarian nature of economic management is the main obstacle in the country. We have to focus on the basics. We have to sell what we can and buy what we don’t have. But, now we are trying to do everything on our won. The idea is correct however the timing is wrong. What is a product that Mongolia can sell? It is the minerals. Unfortunately, we have only one buyer. Mongolia is a developing country, but still we are very poor. There is no need to put high bets trying to predict the future. Therefore, we need to sell what we have and accumulate capital intensively. It seems like we are trying to maximize our profit, preserve our nature to the best, and decrease the shares for the foreign investors. These things are in a different plate of a single scale. Everything is jammed in our economy. In addition, China’s growth is slowing. In order to get out of the current situation, we need to make some business sacrifices. Business needs a sacrifice to succeed. Also, in order to complement the monetary policy with the economic growth the central bank and the government need to work very closely. Real growth is when inflation and exchange rates are stable, not when there is a high inflation and local currency is falling.
Overcoming the crisis
We had many elections recently. Politically motivated promises and populist statements impact business sector negatively. We jammed everything by over politicizing everything. We are to pay a very high price to correct the mistake. We need to make corrections as soon as possible. The Foreign Investment Law was approved, however, we need to work hard on attracting the investors. Foreign investors closely monitor where it could make returns. If Mongolia closes its’ doors today, they will go somewhere else. I think we need decisive and determined economic policies. Policy makers tend aim to be liked by everyone. Life is not like that. There will be losers. Instead of talking about smokeless coal we need to build apartment complexes very fast by hiring Turkish and Chinese workers.. Privatization has to happen quickly in order to develop our financial markets. I think that Arabic-model is suitable for a country that have vast resources and a small population.