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IFC TO FINANCE BERTIN: Project to set new benchmark for environmental and social standards in cattle ranching and meat processing in the Amazon


In Washington, D.C.
Corrie Shanahan

Phone: + 1 (202) 473-2258

Email:
cshanahan@ifc.org

In Sao Paulo

Karina Manasseh

Phone: + (55) 11 5185-6881

Email:
kmanasseh@ifc.org


Washington, D.C., March 8, 2007 – Today IFC announced approval by its board of a loan to Bertin, Brazil’s second-largest meat processing company. The project allows IFC an opportunity to partner and engage a leading private sector company in tackling the most serious environmental and social issues facing the Brazilian Amazon. The project supports World Bank Group strategy for Brazil to support improved productivity and social and environmental responsibility of large-scale livestock and agricultural enterprises and small-scale farming in deforested areas.

The $90 million loan will support Bertin’s corporate investment program to expand and modernize its operations across the country and help it develop a system, the first of its kind in Brazil, to ensure that Bertin’s cattle is sourced from ranchers that use sustainable practices and do not contribute to increased deforestation of the Amazon. The project will adhere to IFC’s environmental and social performance standards.

Bertin and IFC engaged in extensive consultations with local and national civil society organizations over the past year. The evaluation process included a thorough assessment of the direct and indirect impacts that the expansion of Bertin’s meat processing plant in Maraba, in Para state, could have on deforestation and assessed how this project can be used to address social issues like forced labor and agrarian violence. IFC looks forward to continued engagement with the local community and civil society.

A substantial technical assistance program, jointly financed by IFC and Bertin, is a key element in assisting Bertin’s suppliers to implement good agricultural practices in that region. This will result in more efficient use of pasture land, and ultimately raise suppliers’ income and reduce pressure on critical forest resources.

IFC has developed with Bertin a cattle purchasing procedure to ensure that the company’s cattle suppliers in the Amazon region abide by a rigorous list of environmental and social requirements. IFC believes that careful monitoring and supervision will be key to the successful implementation of this project

“There is a real need to reconcile the economic development of the Amazon with its environmental conservation,” said Atul Mehta, IFC's Director for Latin America and Caribbean Region. “The cattle raising industry is an important component of the economic activity in the Amazon. By engaging with Bertin, IFC is seeking to develop new standards for dealing with some of the environmental and social challenges in this sector.”

Mr. Jean-Paul Pinard, Director of IFC’s Agribusiness Department said “We look forward to working closely with Bertin as they implement the project, thereby helping to establish sustainable standards for the Brazilian meat industry.”

For Douglas de Oliveira, Grupo Bertin’s Chief Financial Officer, IFC’s loan attests to the company’s commitment to sustainability. “No other investment bank is as strict as IFC on economic, environmental, and social assessments.  Grupo Bertin wants to become a standard setter in sustainable development. We are making a long term commitment, in which we hope to engage not just IFC but all stakeholders. We are confident that we are helping bring about a new paradigm for the Brazilian cattle industry.”

Bertin’s project complements the activities that the World Bank is developing in the Amazon. Pará Rural, for example, is a project supported by the Bank that seeks to join sustainable production and generation of income, while at the same time creating solid land and structural bases for the integrated development of the State of Pará and the consolidation of the agricultural frontier.

For further information and more detail,
please visit
www.ifc.org/lac

ABOUT BERTIN


The Bertin Group is a diversified company operating in the agribusiness sector (meat, leather, food processing and biodiesel production), personal protection equipment, industrial cleaning products and infrastructure (electricity generation and transportation management). Established 30 years ago, Bertin now has 30 production units distributed throughout the country that generate 30,000 direct jobs.

ABOUT IFC


IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, promotes open and competitive markets in developing countries.  IFC supports sustainable private sector companies and other partners in generating productive jobs and delivering basic services, so that people have opportunities to escape poverty and improve their lives. Through FY06, IFC Financial Products has committed more than $56 billion in funding for private sector investments and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC Advisory Services and donor partners have provided more than $1 billion in program support to build small enterprises, to accelerate private participation in infrastructure, to improve the business enabling environment, to increase access to finance, and to strengthen environmental and social sustainability. For more information, please visit
www.ifc.org.

During last fiscal year, IFC invested $737million in Brazil, including $258 million in syndicated loans, in sectors ranging from agribusiness and transportation to manufacturing and the financial sector. IFC’s total portfolio committed in Brazil was $1.5 billion at June 2006.