Rietumu offered a support programme designed to navigate and help its customers willing to get a residence permit in Latvia. The residence permit guarantees free movement within the Schengen area, currently consisting of 25 European countries. On 13 September, 2010, the first customer of Rietumu officially obtained the European residence permit.
Changes in Rietumu’s Top Management
One of the most famous public relations and finance marketing specialists in Russia – Alexander Gafin – entered the Bank’s Council.
Balram Chairai, one of the wealthiest Hong Kong businessmen, acquired a 5% stake in Rietumu.
Alexander Kalinovski, the former President and Chairman of the Board of Rietumu entered the Bank’s Council; whilst Alexander Pankov, previously First Vice-president and Deputy Chairman of the Board, was appointed for the position of the President and the Chairman of the Board of Rietumu.
The Best Bank in Latvia according to Business New Europe Magazine
After conducting a study of “new Europe” region banks’ operations, a reputable business magazine Business New Europe named Rietumu as the best bank in Latvia.
Launching Rietumu ID
In February 2009, Rietumu introduced a unified customer identification system Rietumu ID. It is a modern, flexible, and easy to use system, featuring high security level for effecting remote banking transactions.
Representative Office in Paris
The new representative office of Rietumu was opened in the capital of France, Paris. Rietumu extended personal banker services to all its customers. The Bank promoted new short-term financing products, as well as new types of term deposits and savings accounts.
A significant event in the Bank’s history, not directly related to its financial operations, took place – change of the logo and corporate style. Within this project, a new modern and user-friendly website was launched.
Expansion in Russia and Belarus
In 2008, the Bank continued to implement its long-term strategy of expanding and of acquiring companies in the CIS region: Rietumu Bank became a co-owner of WestLeasing Group, operating in Russia and Belarus, as well as of the Ukrainian brokerage company “Oschadna Kompanya” (Ukr. “Savings Company”).
The Bank’s fully-owned subsidiary RB Asset Management started offering a wide range of asset management services, such as an own investment fund, international investment funds portfolios, and capital-protected structured notes. Rietumu Bank’s headquarter, the Rietumu Capital Centre, was opened for all customers.
In 2007, the Bank continued to expand its business activities on the international stage: Rietumu Bank opened a representative office in Bucharest (Romania), and received the extension of accreditation of its representative office in Minsk (Belarus). Moreover, the Bank successfully attracted one more commercial syndicated loan in the amount of EUR 120 million for the period of 3 years (with participation from 19 banks). Rietumu Bank intended to use the attracted resources for lending and investment projects in Latvia and abroad.
New Resources for Corporate Lending
In 2006, Rietumu Bank obtained a €60 million syndicated loan from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and a €110 million commercial syndicated loan for expanding lending activities in Latvia and beyond. The extension of the syndicated loans to Rietumu Bank shows a strong confidence from international financial organizations. Michael Bourke continued his involvement with Rietumu Bank as a member of the Supervisory Council, while Alexander Kalinovski (previously First Vice President) was approved for the position of the Bank’s President.
Mr. Dermot Desmond Among the Shareholders
In 2005, a well-known international financier, the Irish businessman Dermot Desmond, acquired a 33% stake in Rietumu Bank. The Bank started the construction of its new headquarters (the Rietumu Capital Centre), and introduced new chip cards MasterCard and Maestro with higher security and reliability. The Bank also started offering its customers a new modern platform for on-line currency trading with FOREX.
Switch to IBAN
In 2004, Rietumu Bank introduced newly designed VISA chip cards, and transferred all account numbers to IBAN format (International Bank Account Number).
In 2004, Rietumu Bank was named the “Best Bank for Foreign Exchange in Latvia” by the Global Finance Magazine. The Banker Magazine featured Rietumu Bank as second-ranked among the most rapidly developing Banks in Central Europe.
The Bank continued its success in Latvia and internationally. Within one year, the Rietumu Credit House was opened, which offered a full spectrum of credit services to borrowers. Also Rietumu Bank opened a new branch and payment group in Riga, and a representative office in Tallinn (Estonia).
Developments in Lending and Card Services
One of the priorities of Rietumu Bank in 2003 were loans - both business and personal. Our terms for loans attracted many retail customers. Customers of the Bank could submit mortgage loan applications through the central office or other branches of the Bank, as well as by completing an on-line application at our website and simply sending it to the Bank electronically.
Improved card service: Rietumu Bank transferred all card services to a processing center, and all the cards began to operate on-line.
Co-operation with EBRD
In 2002, Rietumu Bank launched two projects in collaboration with the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD): received a credit line from EBRD for EUR 5 million, as a part of the implementation of the EU strategy for developing small and medium businesses and became a member of the commercial financing program of the EBRD. This simplified the loan process for customers and allowed Rietumu Bank to offer more favourable conditions.
Launch on Equation DBA
Rietumu Bank continued implementation of the IT system Equation DBA, developed by one of the world’s leaders in banking systems, Misys International. The transition to the new system simplified the use of banking services for customers and moved the financial services standard to a new level.
Acquisition of Saules Banka
Rietumu Bank announced the purchase of 100 percent of Saules Bank shares, which made it one of the top five banks in Latvia. Within a couple of months, the merger of the two banks was successfully accomplished: Rietumu Bank took over a developed network of payment cards and ATM’s. As a result, Rietumu Bank became one of the biggest banks in servicing corporate and private customers, not only in Latvia but also in the Baltic region.
Introduction of Rietumu BankWorld
In 2001, Rietumu Bank launched the Internet banking system “Rietumu BankWorld”. It gave its customers the highest level of security along with easy access to a wide range of financial services provided by Rietumu Bank.
Platinum Credit Cards
At the end of 2001, Rietumu Bank was the first bank in the Baltic States to introduce the exclusive Eurocard / Mastercard Platinum as well as VISA Platinum credit cards.
New Investment Opportunities
In 1999, Rietumu Bank started to accept deposits in Euro and signed a number of important contracts with the largest Western financial organisations. This move allowed the Bank to offer its customers new opportunities to search and accommodate investments.
In 1998, international rating agencies for the first time ever estimated the financial standing of Rietumu Bank and published its international credit rating. According to Thomson BankWatch: “Rietumu Bank has improved its management and control‚ as well as introduced a modern information technology system. This year, the Bank opened several new branches and continued developing in its strategic field of Corporate Banking. The number of customers steadily increased, and the Bank strengthened its leading position on the Latvian market.”
Building a Strong Team
In October 1997, Michael J. Bourke became the President of Rietumu Bank. Before that he had worked for five years for the EU’s Phare program as a consultant to the President of the Bank of Latvia. Mr. Bourke started his work at Rietumu Bank with the creation of a strong team of professionals, which would effectively serve the needs of the Bank’s customers, with a strong focus on Corporate Banking.
Asset Management Programs
Since 1996, Rietumu Bank has offered its customers various trust programs as well as investment services, which all have played an important role in the Bank’s development.
Fifth Largest Bank in Latvia
By the end of 1995, Rietumu Bank had become the fifth largest bank in Latvia in terms of the size and assets. The first two branches opened to public were established in the Old Town of Riga, and in the area of Riga’s seaport. 1995 was also the year the Bank started to develop a chain of regional information centres in the largest towns of both the CIS and the Baltic States.
On May 14th, 1992, Rietumu Bank was registered in the Register of Enterprises of the Republic of Latvia. In 2002, the Bank celebrated the 10th anniversary of its founding in Latvia.