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IFC Recapitalization Fund’s First Investment Aims to Strengthen Paraguayan Bank System


In Washington, D.C.:
Adriana Gomez, IFC

Phone: +202-458-5204

E-mail:
AGomez@ifc.org

Lotte Pang, IFC                                                

Phone: +202-758-4290

E-mail:
LPang@ifc.org

In Banco Continental, Paraguay:

Oscar Enrique Diesel

Phone: 595-21-442002 extension 1430

E-mail:
oscar.diesel@bancontinental.com.py


March 26, 2009, Washington, D.C.—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced that the IFC Recapitalization Fund will make its inaugural investment of $20 million in Paraguay’s Banco Continental, which will help strengthen one of the country’s leading financial institutions and ensure continued lending to small and medium enterprises.

The Fund, a key IFC initiative aimed at helping mitigate the effects of the global financial crisis, will invest in Banco Continental’s preferred stock, which is part of the bank’s Tier 1 Capital. Banco Continental, the largest locally owned financial institution in Paraguay, provides commercial lending products and services to SMEs and corporate clients. It also provides consumer finance. The bank, an IFC client since 2007, serves more than 62,000 customers through a network of 31 branches located in 11 departments.

“We are pleased to continue developing our relationship with IFC and welcome the investment from the IFC Recapitalization Fund, which is a vote of confidence in Banco Continental," said Carlos Espínola, President of Banco Continental. "The financing will further strengthen Banco Continental’s capital base and allow us to continue addressing our clients’ needs throughout Paraguay, increasing access to financial services. We also welcome the valuable knowledge and global experience IFC will contribute to our organization.”


The IFC Recapitalization Fund, founded by IFC and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) on February 2, 2009, is a $3 billion global equity and subordinated debt fund that aims to support banks considered vital to the financial system of an emerging market country. By supporting such systemic institutions the fund aims to speed up economic recovery and boost job creation while reducing the impact of the financial crisis.

Lars Thunell, IFC's Executive Vice President and CEO, said: “This inaugural transaction by the IFC Recapitalization Fund is an indication of the Fund’s and IFC’s commitment to the development of the Paraguayan financial system. Systemically important financial institutions such as Banco Continental have a significant role to play in ensuring continued lending to real sectors of the economy and reducing the impact of the financial crisis. We are proud of our partnership with JBIC in creating the Fund, which will allow us to support vital banks in emerging economies.”


IFC has invested $1 billion of its own money in the IFC Recapitalization Fund. JBIC has invested $2 billion in the fund, bringing the total to $3 billion. The Fund will provide Tier I and Tier II capital to emerging market banks and also provide advisory services aimed at strengthening private sector development and improving their economic and financial performance. For more information about IFC’s financial crisis response, visit  
www.ifc.org/financialcrisis.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase over the previous year. For more information, visit
www.ifc.org.

About Japan Bank for International Cooperation

JBIC is the international wing of the Japan Finance Corporation (JFC), Japan’s policy-based financing institution established on October 1, 2008. JBIC provides policy-based finance with a mission to contribute to the sound development of the Japanese and international economy, in line with Japanese government’s policies and initiatives. For more information, visit
www.jbic.go.jp.

About Banco Continental

Banco Continental is one of the fastest-growing banks in the country, and has an extensive network of 31 branches across the main departments of Paraguay. It began operations in 1980. In 2004, a group of local businessmen and financial-sector investors acquired the bank, leading to a renovation and expansion phase that positioned it as one of the leading institutions in the Paraguayan financial system. Banco Continental is the largest fully locally owned financial institution in Paraguay. For more information, visit
www.bancontinental.com.py.