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02 may 2024
Radu Crivoi. Maib’s ESG efforts rated by Sustainalytics, first for a bank in Moldova

Interview with Radu Crivoi, Investor Relations and Sustainability Analyst at maib.


Radu, good afternoon. Recently I was preparing for an interview at maib and I came across maib’s sustainability page on maib investor relations website. More specifically, I saw that maib received an ESG risk rating from Sustainalytics, part of Morningstar, the largest research and rating agency in the US. Apart from the bank's website, I have not found any other information anywhere else, I have never heard about any other Moldovan bank having such a rating, so I decided to turn to you for comments.

Yes, to start off factually, on 15 November 2023 maib was the first Moldovan bank to receive a recognized international ESG risk rating. We are quite happy with the score that we’ve received – the overall risk rating stood at 25.5, which puts us in the low to medium risk zone. Amongst regional banks we are within the top 38% of banks, whilst amongst global banks we are within the best 45%. Considering these are maib’s first steps in ESG space, we did well.

Is obtaining such a rating becoming mandatory for Moldovan banks?

Allow me to take a step back first. Last year, alongside the annual report, maib released its inaugural sustainability report. You may know that maib is aiming to list its shares [launch an IPO] on Bucharest Stock Exchange at some point in the future. After the listing, investors will compare maib with other international banks. Currently, in the EU and in Romania, all banks and large companies prepare sustainability reports. It is not only mandatory from a regulatory point of view, it is also practical, as many investors now demand it. In Moldova, this practice is optional. Yes, a few companies, such as Premier Energy and Kaufland recently published such reports, but none of the banks have. Notably, some Moldovan subsidiaries of foreign companies contribute to group level reports, such as Victoria Bank and Draxlmaier. Maib was the first Moldovan bank to start this practice. I can also tell you that as Moldova aligns its legislation with European standards, all banks will have to publish it at some point soon.

I can imagine what’s in the bank's annual report. But what does a bank's sustainability report include?

There are generally accepted European and global standards for such reports, and we immediately adhered to such standards. The report includes maib’s impact on the environment (carbon footprint of our operations, use of resources, environmentally responsible practices, “green” loans), society (fair and responsible consumer practices, community relations, fair treatment of employees), as well as governance standards (business ethics, governance mechanisms and safeguards).

But you decided not to stop at the report, but also to get an international ESG risk rating. I looked up information about the company that did your assessment. Morningstar Sustainalytics is a leading ESG research, ratings and data company, and works with the world's leading investment firms, pension funds and major companies to help them incorporate sustainability into their policies, practices and investments. What was the rationale behind the initiative to seek a rating?

We need such a rating for the future. Maib's plans to launch an IPO remain unchanged. The rating we have received is an important indicator for international investors who appreciate this level of transparency. This helps us build credibility in the sustainability field.

Just as importantly, the rating will be a starting point and an important internal benchmark for us. We have received a detailed explanation of why we have obtained this particular score, which means that in the future we will be able to consciously work on improving it.

Will the results of the rating be taken into account when shaping maib's development strategy?

Absolutely. We are already preparing our sustainability report for 2023 and the results of the rating will be taken into account in it. In addition, our current sustainability strategy includes around 60 individual objectives that we want to achieve in every area, from banking products to our social policy.

What you are talking about requires a lot of organizational and financial input from the bank and, at the same time, is not currently mandatory.

Are you leading me to the question of why maib is doing it now?


The answer is simple. The European accession is the main vector of Moldova's development. The topic of sustainable development in the European Union has reached the highest level of importance. All large companies will report on the topic of sustainability, and their activity will be evaluated whilst taking into account ESG risks. This will soon become a norm of work in Moldova as well. Moreover, the taxation mechanism will change, taking into account the climate impact of companies' activities. Legislation regulating banking activity will also undergo changes. The European Central Bank and our central bank will have to take climate risks into account. Moldova has already received a roadmap of actions, and in the near future, banks will have to take into account the climate risks in risk management. So maib is now investing in its future. As the leading bank in Moldova, we should be the leader and an example in this matter, including for our clients, because we will be able to share with them our experience of practical actions in the direction of sustainable development.

In terms of financing green economy projects, where does maib stand now?

We are now working on climate risk management function and developing an internal fund to promote green initiatives, for which 10 million lei has been allocated. Our portfolio of green loans at the end of 2023 is 580 million lei. These are mainly solar panels, wind energy, and one large loan to the Chisinau trolleybus park. It can be reasonably stated that the bank is deliberately ahead of regulatory requirements in terms of sustainable development so that in the future, when legislation is harmonized with European standards, we are fully prepared to comply with the necessary regulations.

What is your background and how did you end up here at maib?

I have been at maib a year now. Before maib I studied at University College London, and had an internship at PwC. I happened to find this job opening for an Investor Relations analyst at maib soon after I graduated, and it sounded like something that would interest me. Plus the thought of coming back home after 5 years of living abroad sounded quite nice. To be fully honest, I only found out whilst applying that the sustainability component is a big part of the job, yet I thought I’d take on the challenge anyways and the work has been rewarding ever since.

Pavel Zingan
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