Press Releases


Jannette Esguerra
Phone:  (202) 458-5204
Fax:    (202) 974-4384


WASHINGTON, D.C., June 14, 1999 — IFC Executive Vice President Peter Woicke will travel to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Costa Rica – a region where economic reforms and political stability have opened much potential for the development of the private sector.

IFC is the part of the World Bank Group that promotes private sector investment in developing countries which will reduce poverty and improve people's lives.   In Central America, that means supporting the development of regional private financial and physical infrastructure and supporting internationally competitive companies as democratization develops and provides a more welcoming atmosphere for the private sector.  

IFC is focusing on building the base of small- and medium-sized companies in Central America, principally by investing in regional financial institutions that, in turn, provide long-term financing for these companies. IFC will provide additional support to small- and medium-sized companies in countries affected by Hurricane Mitch through a dedicated technical assistance trust fund.  IFC is also helping to involve the private sector in infrastructure investments and privatizations in Central America. And most recently, IFC has reacted to the devastation of Hurricane by working on investments to help otherwise sound companies that need help to recover.

In Guatemala, the country where IFC has invested most in the region and opened a regional office last year, Mr. Woicke will meet with President Alvaro Arzu Irigoyen and senior officials as well as business people. He will visit Fabrigas Rio Bobos, a hydropower project financed by IFC, and meet with other clients in the agroindustrial, power, financial, and retail sectors.

The damage of Hurricane Mitch will dominate the visit in Honduras, where Mr. Woicke is scheduled to meet with President Carlos Flores Facusse and the central bank governor as well as signing an investment in the country's largest shrimp farm producer, Granjas Marinas, to speed recovery from hurricane destruction.  IFC is currently considering other transactions, in particular projects in agribusiness, to help Honduran companies to rebuild and resume expansion after the setback of Mitch. IFC is also preparing a study to determine the need for a rehabilitation fund designed to assist agro-exporters to improve their financial health and undertake delayed expansion programs.

In El Salvador, Mr. Woicke will meet incoming President Francisco Flores and other government officials.  IFC has made a number of investments since the end of the military conflict, including up to US$1 million in AFP Prevision, which manages mandatory and voluntary pension funds in El Salvador's new social security system. Mr. Woicke will visit the company, underlining that IFC's involvement in the Salvadoran pension industry, initiated through this project, is designed to encourage other capital market development initiatives.

On his last stop, in Costa Rica, Mr. Woicke will meet with President Rodriguez as well as IFC client Grupo Mas X Menos, the holding company for Corporacion Supermercados Unidos, a retail business in which IFC recently invested US$40 million to bring low-cost, one-stop shopping to consumers in Central America and the Caribbean.

Mr. Woicke became IFC Executive Vice President and World Bank Managing Director in January 1999 after a career with J.P. Morgan that took him to positions in the Middle East, Latin America, and most recently to Asia where he served as Chairman of J.P. Morgan Securities Asia.

IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. IFC's portfolio for its own account in Central America totals $230 million.

Mr. Woicke's itinerary:

June 21-22  Guatemala

June 23  Honduras

June 24  El Salvador

June 25  Costa Rica

Journalists are invited to a news conference with Mr. Woicke at The Princess Hotel in Tegucigalpa, Wednesday, June 23, 1999 at 5:30 p.m.

For further information on Mr. Woicke's trip or IFC's work in Central America please contact Jannette Esguerra at the number listed above or in Guatemala City, June 21-22 at (502) 367-2275.