São Paulo, September 4, 2007 –
Lars Thunell, IFC Executive Vice President and CEO, concluded his visit
to Brazil last week by emphasizing the priorities for IFC’s work with
the country’s private sector. IFC will focus on midsize companies
that can benefit from its expertise and with midsize banks that can expand
access to finance for small and medium enterprises. IFC will also
continue leading on issues of sustainability, particularly in the Amazon.
This was Mr. Thunell’s first official trip to Brazil as head of IFC. He
visited to see first-hand some of IFC’s operations in the country, and
to learn more about the complexities of sustainable development in the
“Midsize Brazilian companies have the
capacity to go global,” said Thunell, “and we are interested in supporting
their growth.” He added that IFC’s strategy to move closer to the
mid-market segment, while reflecting liquidity in the market, is primarily
an effort to help companies become global players by raising social and
environmental standards as well as overall corporate governance. For example,
during his visit Thunell signed a $40 million financing for Sabó, a supplier
of auto parts headquartered in São Paulo. IFC’s investment supports the
company’s expansion and will help the family-owned business become more
competitive in the global market.
IFC’s strategy also envisions working more with Brazil’s midsize banks
to ensure that credit is available to smaller businesses. The focus is
on underserved people and regions and on types of financing with strong
potential to advance the country’s development, such as student loans
and housing finance. For instance, IFC made an equity investment in Banco
Fibra, a bank that is expanding into Brazil’s less prosperous northeast.
Sustainability and the Amazon Rain Forest
“Brazil is a clear leader on issues of sustainability. I am struck
by the number of banks that have adopted the Equator Principles, as well
as the quality and commitment of many of the clients and entrepreneurs
I have met. And the country’s whole renewable energy sector is booming,”
During the visit, IFC announced that it will provide Banco ABN AMRO Real
with a $200 million sustainability credit line, enabling Banco Real to
fund clients’ projects that have a significant impact on environmental
and social sustainability.
“For both IFC and Banco Real, this is an important milestone, not only
because of the size of the credit line, but also because it demonstrates
how our two institutions are continuing to set high benchmarks for sustainability-related
lending,” said Thunell. He added that IFC’s partnership with Banco Real
continues to heighten awareness in Brazil’s financial and commercial sectors
of the great business potential for sustainability-related banking.
Thunell also visited parts of the Amazon. In Manaus, the capital
of the state of Amazonas, he discussed the region’s sustainable development
with Governor Eduardo Braga. Here Thunell also visited the industrial
“What I found most surprising to see up close is the scope and diversity
of the Amazon,” said Thunell. “The issues here are big and complex.
One key challenge is to create incentives for business operations
that make illegal activity less and less rewarding. What we need to do
is improve the economics for sustainable business.”
Thunell also participated at a roundtable discussion with Brazilian NGOs
working in the Amazon. He noted that IFC can play a catalytic role in the
region’s development by promoting a coalition among various stakeholders,
including the private sector, to strengthen supply chains, especially in
agribusiness and forestry.
Atul Mehta, IFC Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Andrew
Gunther, IFC’s Brazil Country Manager accompanied Thunell during the visit.
The trip included a stop in Brasilia to meet with the President’s
Chief of Staff, Mrs. Dilma Roussef, to discuss ways of working together
to improve Brazil’s infrastructure.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth
in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing
capital in the international financial markets, and providing advisory
services to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that poor people
have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY06,
IFC committed $8.3 billion, including syndications, to 284 investments
in 66 developing countries. For more information, please visit www.ifc.org.