Press Releases

IFC Invests $50 Million in Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie (BIAT)

In Washington:
Ahmed Badawi-Malik

Phone: +1 (202) 458-7148

Fax:      +1 (202) 974-4384


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 25, 2004 — The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement to provide up to US$ 50 million in the form of subordinated debt to Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie (BIAT). The loan will be structured to qualify as Tier II capital, the first such financing in Tunisia, in line with Banque Centrale de Tunisie, the central bank, guidelines.  The transaction marks the introduction of an alternative source of capital in Tunisia and represents IFC’s first investment in the country since 1998.

According to Jyrki Koskelo, IFC Director for Global Financial Markets, “IFC welcomes the opportunity to support dynamic financial institutions that operate in emerging markets and intends to work closely with BIAT to introduce international best practice in the areas of retail banking and risk management.  The introduction of Tier II financing, a first in Tunisia, will be a landmark in the development of financial markets in the country.”

Sami Haddad, IFC Director for Middle East and North Africa, observed, “IFC’s investment in BIAT supports the ongoing work by the World Bank Group and the IMF to strengthen the financial sector in Tunisia, which involves improving prudential norms, risk management and strengthening the balance sheets of financial institutions.” Chekib Nouira, Chairman of BIAT’s Management Board, added, “We welcome IFC’s support, which brings many advantages, including technical assistance and access to international best practices, and we would like to leverage this relationship for the long-term benefit of BIAT.”

BIAT is the largest private bank and the third largest bank in Tunisia in terms of asset size and equity.  It operates as a full-service bank, offering corporate, SME and retail banking services.  Founded through the merger in April 1976 of the local branch operations of the British Bank of the Middle East and of the French bank Société Marseillaise de Crédit, it is listed on the Tunis and London (through GDRs) stock exchanges.

The mission of IFC ( is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY03, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged $22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY03 was $16.8 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held for participants in loan syndications.