LONDON The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said on Tuesday it aims to complete a study by spring that could pave the way for it to begin investing in Egypt following the collapse of President Hosni Mubarak's regime.
"A technical study is being undertaken and the aim is to finalise it in spring for further consideration by our shareholders," EBRD spokesman Axel Reiserer told Reuters.
The study, which identifies areas of the economy that the London-based lender could help develop, began last May on request from shareholder Egypt.
"Obviously there is political momentum and a sense of urgency but the legal requirements for the decision remain the same," Reiserer said, adding that the EBRD has not been approached by shareholders to speed up the process.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has suggested the EBRD could provide 1 billion euros annually to support Egyptian reforms in the aftermath of Mubarak's overthrow last week after 30 years in power.
Ashton said the EU and the European Investment Bank, two of EBRD's shareholders, have begun discussions on how to help Egypt make the transition in the post-Mubarak era.
"The EBRD was created in 1991 to promote democracy and market economy, and the historic developments in Egypt strike a deep chord at this bank," EBRD President Thomas Mirow said in an emailed statement.
Any decision to expand the EBRD's remit beyond its current 29 countries would require unanimous approval from all of its 63 shareholders.
Some EBRD shareholders have in the past expressed unease at further expanding the bank's scope of operations beyond its original mandate of helping former communist countries adjust to free markets.
The bank holds its annual meeting on May 20-21.
(Reporting by Sebastian Tong; Editing by Susan Fenton)