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IFC SIGNS ITS FIRST BANK CREDIT LINE IN PANAMA LINE WILL FINANCE SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES


Asimina Caminis, Alonos Castellanos


WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23 -- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has signed a US$5 million line of credit to a Panamanian private bank, Banco Continental de Panama (BCP), for on-lending to local small and medium-sized private sector companies. The credit line will provide loans of up to US$750,000 with maturities as long as seven years to enterprises seeking to enhance their international competitiveness in the context of Panama's economic liberalization program. In most cases, loans will be used to finance the expansion and modernization of existing industrial plant and equipment. IFC will work closely with BCP to help the bank develop its project finance expertise. With US$284 million in assets as of year-end 1992, BCP ranks among the four largest locally owned Panamanian banks. It provides a wide range of financial services, including leasing, brokerage, and trust services. BCP's shareholders are a group of Panamanian business leaders with interests in finance, insurance, international trade, food
processing, transportation, and agro-industry. IFC made an earlier investment in Panama's expanding financial sector in 1978, when it took an equity stake in Banco Latinoamericano de Exportaciones S.A., Latin America's export bank. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, promotes private investment in developing countries. To date, it has provided US$11 billion to more than 1,000 financial and industrial companies in 100 developing countries. (30)

Banco Continental de Corporattion