Press Releases

IFC and BIAT to Improve Retail and Small Business Banking in Tunisia

In Washington, D.C.:
Ludi Joseph

Phone: +(202) 473 7700


Corrie Shanahan

Phone: +(202) 473 2258


In Rabat:

Mehdi Cherkaoui

Phone: + (212) 37 652-479

Fax:     + (212) 37 652-893


TUNIS/WASHINGTON, D.C., December 22, 2004—The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, today signed a memorandum of understanding with Banque  Internationale Arabe de Tunisie (BIAT) whereby IFC will advise BIAT on improving its retail and banking operations for small businesses. The project will be managed by IFC’s technical assistance facility Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East and North Africa (PEP MENA).

This project aims to strengthen BIAT’s position in the retail and small business market by developing tailored products and implementing new credit tools and procedures that will improve the bank’s risk management and quality of service.

According to Sami Haddad, IFC Director for Middle East and North Africa, “This project represents an additional step in the existing successful collaboration between our two institutions and is aligned with IFC’s strategy for developing financial markets in the MENA region.”   Chekib Nouira, Chairman of BIAT’s Management Board, added, “Our partnership with IFC, which began in 1998, led to tangible projects such as a GDR issue and a subordinated loan; it will be further strengthened as a result of this new mandate and others in the future.”

BIAT is the largest private bank and the third-largest bank in Tunisia in asset size and equity. It operates as a full-service bank, offering corporate, small business, and retail banking services. It is listed on the Tunis and London (through GDRs) stock exchanges.  In May 2004, IFC invested $50 million in the form of subordinated debt in BIAT. The loan was structured to qualify as tier II capital, the first such financing in Tunisia.

PEP MENA is IFC’s technical assistance facility that supports private sector development in the Middle East and North Africa.  PEP MENA focuses on improving the business-enabling and regulatory environment in the region; strengthening the financial sector; promoting the growth of small and medium enterprises and their support services such as business organizations and consulting firms; helping restructure and privatize state-owned enterprises; and developing viable private sector and public-private partnership projects, especially in infrastructure.

The mission of IFC ( is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY04, IFC has committed more than $44 billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY04 was $17.9 billion for its own account and $5.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.