What does a 39-year-old exprime minister do with the rest of his life? If he is Lado Gurgenidze, who stepped down as premier of Georgia a year ago after guiding his tiny country through its 2008 war with Russia, the answer is: Go back to work as a banker.
Gurgenidze was CEO of the Bank of Georgia, the largest financial institution in the nation of 4.6 million, before his 11-month stint in politics. He stepped down as prime minister in October 2008 after negotiating a $1 billion-plus postwar aid package from foreign donors. Late last month he took the reins as chief executive at Peoples Bank of Georgia, the former state agricultural bank, which maintains Georgias largest retail network. Gurgenidze and a partner, Romanian oil and real estate billionaire Dinu Patriciu, bought 91 percent of Peoples Bank for $15 million, with a promise to invest an additional $10 million. The duo is looking to acquire five or six banks in markets that are about where Georgias was in 200405, Gurgenidze says. Small economies with less than $100 billion GDP, low corruption and low taxes.