São Paulo, June 2, 2008—IFC, a
member of the World Bank Group, and the Inter-American Investment Corporation
today announced that they will invest in Unik, a leading Brazilian issuer
of credit cards consigned in payrolls and financial services for low-income
people and retirees. This will enable the company to expand its reach to
the country’s low-income segments.
Through the deal, IFC will acquire a
12 percent share in Unik, while IIC acquires 8 percent of the company’s
stock. With these new partners, Unik will look to obtain its first direct
credit investment fund for 240 million Brazilian reais, which will be used
to broaden the credit supply. The company has about 750,000 clients, including
retirees and employees from more than 3,000 private and public companies.
According to José Roberto Kracochansky,
Unik’s CEO, said, “Payment cards are an effective way of introducing
basic financial services for low-income consumers and increasing their
access. We are deeply satisfied with the financial support from IFC and
IIC. This shows their vote of confidence in our company’s business model.”
Andrew Gunther, IFC General Manager
in Brazil, said, “IFC is focusing on innovative projects that expand access
to finance for low-income people, as well as for micro, small, and medium
enterprises. This project enables IFC to support financial intermediaries
that are attempting to bridge the gap in Brazil’s financial services market.”
Santiago Cat, IIC Investment Officer in charge of this operation, said,
“Through this investment, we hope to enhance access to basic financial
services for low-income families, increase the number of commercial and
merchant businesses in urban and rural areas, and improve access to credit.”
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group,
fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing
private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international
financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services
to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that poor people should
have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07,
IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through
syndications and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing
countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more
information, visit www.ifc.org.
About the Inter-American Investment Corporation
IIC is a multilateral financial institution
and member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group. It offers funding
in the form of stock contributions, collaterals, and consultancy services
for companies in Latin America and the Caribbean. IIC’s mission is to
spur economic development among the countries in the region, foster expansions,
and streamline private companies, mainly small and medium enterprises.
For more information, visit www.iic.int.
Since 2004, Unik has been controlled
by Rio Bravo Investimentos, an asset manager that belongs to Gustavo Franco,
former Central Bank President. The company was repositioned as a platform
for financial services for Brazil’s low-income populations with limited
access to banking services. The company also offers such services as insurance,
payment of accounts, and mobile phone reloading. In 2007, the company revenues
were 193 million reais, with a growth of 57 percent from the previous year.
Part of its expansion is due to an increasing customer base and network
of accredited businesses that accept the company’s credit card.