WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 10 -- The International
Finance Corporation (IFC) has approved an investment in Union BČninoise
d'Assurances-Vie, Benin's first private insurance company. The company
will offer a number of life insurance products, including term life and
different types of annuities. Union Africaine-Vie, the main shareholder
with a 51 percent stake in the company, is the largest life insurance company
in CŮte d'Ivoire. It is part of the African network of Union des Assurances
de Paris, France's largest insurance group. IFC will take up to 10 percent
of the company's total share capital of CFA 400 million (US$750,000 equivalent).
Other shareholders will include Bank of Africa Benin and Ecobank-Benin,
Benin's two largest commercial banks. The establishment of Union BČninoise
d'Assurances-Vie follows the Beninese Government's decision to open the
life insurance market to private companies, ending the monopoly of SONAR,
the state-owned insurance company. According to Tei Mante, Director of
n Africa Department, the company will have a "positive impact on the
mobilization of savings in Benin through the provision of new savings products."
He added that IFC had a "long-term commitment to developing Benin's
financial sector." IFC is a shareholder in Bank of Africa Benin and
is working on the establishment of Benin's first leasing company, in which
it plans to make an investment. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group,
is the largest multilateral source of financing for private sector projects
in developing countries.