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IFC Supports Corporate Governance Efforts in Colombia


Washington D.C.:
Adriana Gomez

Phone:  (202) 458-5204

Fax:  (202) 974-4384

E-mail:  
agomez@ifc.org

Colombia:

Paola Gutierrez        
Phone:  (571) 346 70 55

Fax:  (571) 346 71 76

E-mail:
cgcolombia@confecamaras.org.co


Washington D.C., March 12, 2002—As Latin American countries strengthen capital markets and reinforce their securities regulatory frameworks, the need to improve corporate governance practices is now at the center of regional public discussion.

In this context, and with the objective of providing a forum to discuss the strategic importance of corporate governance for Colombian companies, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), along with key Colombian securities entities, private sector organizations, and the Private Sector Advisory Group of the Corporate Governance Global Forum (GCGF), sponsored in Bogota the seminar Corporate Governance and the Role of Managers and Investors.”


The seminar fits with IFC’s strategy to support the improvement of corporate governance practices in Colombia that will help small and medium enterprises gain access to new sources of capital, and will promote effective management and company performance.


It also complements a three-year joint effort of IFC, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and the GCGF, to advance and coordinate the corporate governance dialogue in Latin America, organized around the Latin American Corporate Governance Roundtable.  Representatives of the Colombian public and private sectors will participate actively in the third meeting of the Roundtable to take place in Mexico City, April 8-10, 2002.


More than 250 high level representatives from Colombia’s private and financial sectors attended last week’s seminar, which was also sponsored by the key players in the Colombian securities markets: the Colombian Securities and Exchange Commission; the Stock Exchange of Colombia; the National Association of Pension Funds (Asofondos); and Confecamaras, Colombian Confederation Chambers of Commerce.


The timing could not be better.  Colombia is currently reviewing a new law that will regulate its securities market, the “Ley del Mercado de Valores.”  If approved, it will establish a stronger framework for the regulation of the securities market and for effective rulemaking and enforcement. This process will encourage the improvement of corporate governance practices by promoting greater transparency and disclosure, equitable treatment of minority shareholders and effective boards of directors.  The rapid growth of the new pension funds system in Colombia makes it urgent to accelerate the establishment of a more mature capital market in the country.


“A modern regulatory framework and better corporate governance practices will go hand in hand to build greater public confidence in the securities markets,” said Mike Lubrano, Principal Securities Market Specialist at IFC.


Bernard Pasquier, IFC’s Director of the Latin America and Caribbean Department, also noted: “This corporate governance seminar shows that IFC has been and remains committed to assisting Colombia to improve the country's capital markets and the governance of its firms.”


Speakers in the seminar included Jorge Gabriel Taboada, Colombia’s Superintendent of Securities; Augusto Acosta, President of the Stock Market of Colombia; Eugenio Marulanda, President of Confecámaras; Luis Fernando Alarcón, President of Asofondos; Mike Lubrano, from IFC; Mario Mariasch, Head of Silicon Valley Chapter of the United States National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and Mauro Cunha, Manager of the Bradesco-Templeton corporate governance fund for Brazil, among others.


As part of its strategy to encourage the broadening and deepening of the region’s capital markets, IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has advised governments and the private sector in several Latin American countries such as Chile and Brazil, and now Colombia, to improve securities regulations and to develop private sector corporate governance codes.  


In Colombia, Confecámaras is leading a Committee of Principles that will provide a forthcoming Code of Best Practices, which will be the first in the country.  


The participation in the Corporate Governance seminar of all entities related to Colombia’s securities markets, including issuers, investors, commissioners and government, confirms that the key players in this sector have a commitment to promote a strong domestic capital market and gain the confidence of international investors.


IFC’s mission (www.ifc.org) 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, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.


Since its founding in 1956 through the close of the last fiscal year on June 30, 2001, IFC committed more than $31 billion of its own funds and arranged $20 billion in syndications for 2,636 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s committed portfolio at the end of FY01 was $14.3 billion.