* Chakrabarti wins 90 pct of vote, defeating Poland’s Belka
* Says wants to retain capacity in Russia
* Has said wants to halt EBRD’s rapid expansion (Adds quotes, details, background)
By Marc Jones
LONDON, May 11 (Reuters) - Britain’s Suma Chakrabarti won a second four-year term as head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Wednesday, easily defeating a challenge from Poland’s central bank governor and former prime minister Marek Belka.
Chakrabarti, who won some 90 percent of shareholders’ votes at the annual EBRD meeting in London, said the bank must maintain its presence in Russia, where it suspended new lending after the West imposed sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.
“We have got a huge challenge ahead of us,” Chakrabarti, 57, a former British civil servant, said after his re-election.
The EBRD continues to manage a Russian loan portfolio of more than five billion euros, but maturing projects and stake sales mean this has been falling rapidly and could be gone altogether in around five years if the rate of shrinkage stays constant.
“We always review these situations but for now I think it’s important that we maintain our capacity,” Chakrabarti said.
“We will always need presence because Russia is an important place for us. We need to retain our links to the Russian private sector, Russian administration as well to talk about wider issues as well beyond just new lending,” he said.
The EBRD, set up in 1991 to invest in the former Soviet economies of eastern Europe, has grown considerably over the last decade and now spends around 9 billion euros ($10.30 billion) a year in 36 countries from Morocco to Mongolia.
In an interview ahead of the vote, Chakrabarti told Reuters he would recommend halting the bank’s recent rapid expansion and give more focus to green investments and co-operation with other development banks, such as the new Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). ($1 = 0.8741 euros) (Reporting by Marc Jones; editing by Karin Strohecker and Gareth Jones)