By Rachel Savage
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The New Development Bank of the BRICS group of nations will not be announcing new members at the BRICS Summit in South Africa this week, its Chief Financial Officer Leslie Maasdorp told Reuters on Wednesday.
The bank, which was set up in 2015 to give BRICS members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa a greater say in financing infrastructure than in Western-led institutions like the World Bank, is keen to attract new members to boost its capital base after U.S. sanctions on Russia hobbled its lending.
The NDB, which now also has Egypt, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates as shareholders, is under pressure to boost local currency fundraising and lending as the BRICS nations seek to reduce dependence on the U.S. dollar and develop the BRICS bloc into a counterweight to the West.
“The process of ratifying new countries is happening at the discussion of the (BRICS) leaders, which they are having without us as the bank,” Maasdorp told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the summit.
“There will be no announcements this week,” he said, adding that it was “likely” there would be more new members applying this year, but that the timing was dependent on political processes in the countries that want to join.
At least 15 potential new member countries – including Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Argentina – are under consideration by the governments that are the bank’s shareholders, Maasdorp said.
The NDB is registering an Indian rupee bond programme worth $2.5 billion over 5 years, after it issued its first South African rand bond last week, Maasdorp also said on Wednesday during a panel discussion.
The size of the first issuance, expected to be later this year, is still under discussion, he told Reuters afterwards
The bank will register a Brazilian real bond programme “when appropriate” and hopes to issue in Russian roubles in the “medium term” under a 100 billion rouble ($1.06 billion) programme it set up in 2019, Maasdorp told the panel. He added it cannot issue rouble debt at the moment due to sanctions.
The NDB has already raised $4.5 billion this year and will raise at least $8 billion by the end of the year, Maasdorp told Reuters, adding that it is working on issuing second U.S. dollar “benchmark” bond and one or two more Chinese yuan issuances, with the sizes and maturities yet to be decided.
($1 = 94.4650 roubles)
(Reporting by Rachel Savage; Writing by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Alexander Winning and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)