WASHINGTON, D.C., August 19—The International
Finance Corporation (IFC) signed agreements in Washington, D.C. today with
four private medium-sized banks in Lebanon — Bank of Beirut SAL, Banque
Beyrouth pour le Commerce SAL, Banque Saradar SAL, and Transorient Bank
SAL — to provide long-term credit facilities totaling US$67.5 million.
The banks will use the credit facilities to increase the scope of their
operations, extend project financing to small and medium-sized enterprises
(SMEs) and onlend to middle-income consumers for financing the purchase
of a first residence or enlarging an existing one.
"The credit line provides long-term financing, which is not otherwise
available and also brings the banks up to international standards,"
said Mr. Andre Hovaguimian, Director of IFC's Central Asia, Middle East
and North Africa Department. "It will contribute to the next stage
of financial sector development in Lebanon and bridge the gap between the
short-term nature of deposits and the long-term needs of borrowers. The
credit line will also help banks meet the medium-and long-term financing
needs of SMEs for expansion and capital expenditure."
Mr. Hovaguimian added, "It is significant that this project will assist
in Lebanon's reconstruction efforts. The credit line will address the acute
shortage of houses and housing finance, as IFC did with the previous credit
line approved in 1996, amounting to US$120 million."
IFC's financing consists of a loan of US$45 million for its own account
and an expected syndicated loan of about US$22.5 million.
The four banks are leading commercial banks with strong financial and market
positions and the ability to use the funds effectively for productive investment.
Bank of Beirut SAL was represented at the signing of the agreements by
its Chairman and General Manager, Mr. Salim Sfeir; Banque Beyrouth pour
le Commerce SAL by its Director and General Manager, Mr. Rami El-Nimer;
Banque Saradar SAL by its Deputy Chairman and Deputy General Manager, Mr.
Abdo Jeffi and Transorient Bank SAL by its Chairman and General Manager,
Mr.Adib S. Millet. Mr. Hovaguimian signed on behalf of IFC.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral source
of equity and loan financing for private sector projects in developing