MEDELLÍN, COLOMBIA, March 17, 1999 — IFC
and Mitsubishi Corporation will each hold up to 24.5 percent in the share
capital of Compañía Suramericana de Arrendamiento Operativo S.A. (Surenting),
the first Colombian company dedicated to operating leasing in the country.
Colombia has the second-largest leasing industry in the region, but it
mainly consists of finance leasing for machinery and computers. The Surenting
project will open the way for operating leasing, such as the leasing of
modern truck fleets that will improve local distribution capabilities,
particularly in a country where the mountainous terrain makes railroads
difficult. Modern vehicle fleets with low emissions will reduce air pollution.
The project will also help small and medium-sized companies obtain access
to modern equipment without carrying it on their balance sheets. Mitsubishi
will provide technical assistance for Surenting, which is part of the Suramericana
Group of financial and industrial companies.
The economic slowdown in Colombia and greater competition in the financial
sector have forced leasing companies to introduce new products to continue
the growth of the industry. IFC looks forward to working with Mitsubishi
and continuing its partnership with Suramericana to bring more advanced
product concepts and technologies not only to Colombia, but also throughout
Latin America, said Karl Voltaire, IFC Director for Latin America and the
Caribbean. He noted that the leasing industry has already proven that it
has an important role in expanding access to capital goods among medium-sized
IFC, part of the World Bank Group, fosters economic growth in the developing
world by financing private sector investments, mobilizing capital in the
international financial markets and providing technical assistance and
advice to governments and businesses.