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IFC Expansion in Nigeria Signals Optimism on Reform and Growth Prospects

In Abuja
Obadiah Tohomdet
Phone: +23 49 314 5275 x211

In Johannesburg

Desmond Dodd

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In Washington, DC

Rita Jupe

+1(202) 458 8967


Abuja, January 30, 2007—IFC's Executive Vice President, Lars Thunell, has emphasized that creating opportunities for private businesses and entrepreneurs in a wide range of sectors is a high priority for IFC as it strives to expand its development impact in the country. Speaking during his second visit to Nigeria, Mr. Thunell revealed plans to expand engagement with the country's private sector, especially smaller businesses, through local currency financing, support of the financial sector, and financing of manufacturing, agribusiness, and infrastructure businesses.

The two-day visit highlighted IFC's commitment to and well-established partnership with Nigeria. Mr. Thunell met with government officials, development partners, representatives from the private sector, and several of IFC's clients.

"IFC remains optimistic about the reform process, growth, and private sector development in Nigeria. We continue to look for new opportunities and sectors in which we can participate," said Mr. Thunell. “IFC's investments will remain focused on sectors that demonstrate sustainable reforms."

Mr. Thunell's remarks came after IFC announced its first local currency financing and support for Nigeria's health care sector through a loan of 390 million Nigerian naira ($3 million) to Hygeia Nigeria Limited. The loan will support the upgrade of three Hygeia hospitals, expand the country's health coverage, and help deliver high-quality care at affordable cost.

The investment in Hygeia is part of IFC's strategy to expand into previously untapped sectors. It follows recent approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria for IFC to offer local currency financing in naira.  This will benefit Nigerian companies in their own currency and enable IFC to diversify into newer sectors and companies more easily.

Mr. Thunell highlighted IFC's strong track record in providing new and innovative products and services in Nigeria’s financial sector, including trade finance, credit facilities for small and medium enterprises, and partial credit guarantees. Last year, IFC provided its first financial sector loan to help a local bank increase its support to women entrepreneurs.

Infrastructure is also a high priority for IFC in Nigeria. The Corporation recently completed an advisory assignment to help bring private management to the international airport in Abuja. IFC is also actively looking to structure and finance power projects. "With sufficient government commitment to reform, IFC can be a unique partner in piloting public-private partnerships or scaling up successful private investments in infrastructure, a key bottleneck and a major reason for the high cost of doing business in Nigeria," said Mr. Thunell.

One of IFC's fastest-growing client countries, Nigeria is the Corporation’s ninth-largest portfolio and its largest exposure in Africa.  In FY06, IFC committed $266 million in 10 projects in Nigeria, bringing the committed portfolio for its own account to $544 million, a jump of almost 30 percent from $419 million from a year earlier.

As of June 30, 2006, IFC had committed financing to 62 projects in the amount of $985 million. Investments include $872 million for IFC's own account and $113 million for the account of banks participating in loan syndications.

The Corporation's strategic priorities for Nigeria include: developing infrastructure, through investments and advisory support in privatization; supporting the financial and industrial sectors; empowering micro, small, and medium enterprises, mainly by improving the business climate and increasing their access to finance from local institutions; and diversifying the economy from reliance on the oil sector.

About IFC

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral provider of financing for private enterprise in developing countries. IFC provides financial products for private sector investments, mobilizes capital in international financial markets, facilitates trade, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides advisory services to businesses and governments. From its founding in 1956 through FY06, IFC has committed more than $56 billion of its own funds for private sector investments in the developing world and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. With the support of funding from donors, it has also provided more than $1 billion in advisory services.

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