The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved investment of €1bn (US$1.27bn) for expansion into the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring. EBRD, which typically invests in private sector firms in the former Soviet bloc, said it will invest in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan. “The EBRD’s shareholders agreed on Saturday to the creation of a €1bn special fund to start investments in emerging Arab democracies in response to the wave of political change in parts of the Middle East and North Africa,” EBRD said in a statement. “The EBRD is planning to invest specifically in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan. It has opened preliminary offices in all four of these countries, appointed a managing director for the region and hired additional staff with regional experience,” it added. EBRD said it would invest in the development of the private sector with its first projects likely to be concluded around September but stressed it remained committed to supporting growth in Eastern Europe amid the Euro zone crisis. “The Bank expects to be able to eventually invest up to €2.5bn a year in the new region, while not detracting from investments in its existing countries of operations, where funding totaled €9.1bn in 2011,” it added. EBRD was founded in 1991 to help former Soviet bloc countries such as Hungary, Kazakhstan and Russia to switch and adapt to a market economy.