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IFC APPROVES ITS FIRST LEBANESE PROJECT IN 15 YEARS


Bibi Kasrai


WASHINGTON, D.C., March 18 -- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has approved financing for a project in Lebanon for the first time since 1978--a US$6 million loan to Uniceramic S.A.L., a manufacturer of ceramic floor tiles. The IFC financing will consist of a US$4 million loan for IFC's own account and a US$2 million loan to be placed with a cofinancing institution. "IFC could play a major role in Lebanon's rehabilitation by supporting its private sector, which has remained the Lebanese economy's driving force during the war years," said Andre Hovaguimian, IFC Director for the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Uniceramic is 100 percent privately owned and was founded in 1973 by Mr. Joseph Ghorra, the company's chairman. The project will involve the modernization of the existing production line and the expansion of the plant's capacity, enabling the company to become more competitive in Lebanon and neighboring Arab countries. The total cost is estimated at US$10.7 million. IFC is the membe
r of the World Bank Group that promotes private sector investment in developing countries. To date, IFC has provided US$11 billion in financing to more than 1,000 companies in 100 developing countries. (30)