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IFC INVESTS IN A FIVE-STORE INTEGRATED DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM IN BULGARIA AND MACEDONIA


Brigid Janssen
Phone: (202) 458-4698

Fax: (202) 974-4384

E-mail: bjanssen@ifc.org


WASINGTON, D.C., December 11, 2000 The International Finance Corporation is helping to bring home improvement to Bulgaria and Macedonia through an investment in five home hardware and services stores owned by Doverie Brico AD and operated under the franchise of Mr. Bricolage, a French homestores retailing giant.

IFC will provide a loan for its own account of US$3.0 million and quasi-equity of $1.8 million, alongside investments by Doverie United Holding (DUH), a major Bulgarian holding company, and NBG Venture Capital Fund.  DUH is a successor of the United Bulgarian Privatization Fund Doverie AD, which attracted more than 260,000 Bulgarian shareholders since its founding in 1996.  NBG is a part of the National Bank of Greece Group, one of the oldest and strongest financial groups in Greece.


The $14.4 million project will establish five integrated shopping outlets for a full range of home improvement and repair products in Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna in Bulgaria, and Scopje in Macedonia.  The stores will also be providing technical advice and bringing in the latest know-how and application techniques to Bulgaria.  Doverie Brico will be a pioneer in offering a wide range of international quality home improvement products under one roof at competitive prices.


The agreement was signed in Bulgaria by Mr. Khosrow K. Zamani, Director of IFC’s Southern Europe & Central Asia Department.  Mr. Zamani said that the investment signals IFC's continued commitment to supporting the local private sector in Bulgaria through long-term finance that is not easily available in the country.


The project will provide an outlet for local production and stimulate the home improvement and construction services industry.  It will increase competition in the retail sector and improve retailing standards in the region.  Standardization, a larger selection of products, and reliable supply that will come with the project should make it easier for smaller companies to enter the market and improve quality of service.


The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private sector investment in developing countries, which will 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.  To date, IFC has approved $136.5 million in investments in 11 projects in Bulgaria with a total cost of $539.0 million.