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Serbia, Does the change of expobank’s owner bring differences?

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During the Easter holidays, it was announced that Podgorica’s Adriatic bank bought Belgrade’s Expobank AD. „A new player has arrived on the domestic market, which should be interpreted as a good sign, because the consolidation process on the domestic banking market has been interrupted, at least for a moment. This is good for the domestic economy, which such a trend has pushed further and further away from loans,“ Branko Živanović, a professor at the Belgrade Banking Academy, told

Expobank AD and Adriatic Bank share a small market share, but also business agility. Expobank took that name in 2017, when Czech Expobanka acquired Marfin banka.

On the other hand, today’s Adriatic bank from Podgorica was registered in the Central Register of Business Entities in Montenegro for the first time in April 2016, under the name Azmont banka, and five months later it changed its name to Nova banka AD. The name Adriatic bank was adopted in March 2020, writes

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As stated in its financial report for 2022, the bank was founded by the company Azmont Investments d.o.o. Herceg Novi, which has been operating in Montenegro since 2012, with the aim of building the luxury tourist complex “Portonovi”.

In January 2020, Azmont transferred all its own shares to the buyer Adriatic Capital LLC, based in the city of Wilmington in the US state of Delaware.

Adriatic Bank’s activities include credit, deposit and guarantee operations, as well as foreign payment operations, depot operations, safe deposit services, issuing, processing and recording of payment instruments, and since 2021 it has a license to provide investment banking services.

The change In ownership of Expobank does not change the number of banks operating in Serbia – there are still 21 commercial banks. BBA professor Branko Živanović reminds that in recent years we have “sent away” some very renowned players on the international banking market from the Serbian market, while the increasingly frequent consolidation of the national banking sector has distanced domestic companies from loans.

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“The cartelized market and reduced competition, along with the already domesticated high interest rates and increasingly restrictive credit policy of commercial banks, are not a favorable environment for economic development.” Although in the current case it is not a ‘titan’ of commercial banking, I believe that our market can only benefit from the arrival of a smaller and more agile bank with real capital, such as Adriatic Bank”, believes Živanović.

According to his assessment, it is possible for such a bank to lean more towards placements in the economy. “Neither the mother bank nor the acquired bank has a format that focuses on small loans and payment transactions, so it is possible that they will lean more toward placements with small and medium-sized enterprises. The history of commercial banking entities that had their ultimate origin in Expobank AD Belgrade points to something like that, so the new bank could also be a ‘role model’ of a faster and more efficient bank with a more flexible approach in deposit and credit business with companies that, by nature and size, dominate our economic scene,” Zivanović told

He emphasizes that the real place in our national banking market Expobank with new owners could win with products and services in the segment of private banking, where our market is “very shallow”.

Branko Živanović, however, also points to the limitations brought about by the fact that these are two small banks with modest participation in the Serbian and Montenegrin markets.

“However, it will also give them the flexibility they need.” The management of Expobank has, after all, proven this on several occasions so far. In a very strong domestic commercial-banking competition, he preserved an adequately capitalized and liquid bank in a smaller format, and on several occasions he sold it well,” pointed out Professor Živanović in an interview with


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