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IFC Investment in Banka Popullore Supports Albania’s Housing Finance Sector


In Washington, DC:
Victor Timotin

Phone: +1 (202) 473-7562

Email:
vtimotin@ifc.org


Washington, D.C./Tirana, June 14, 2007 — IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, today signed an agreement with Banka Popullore to help expand the emerging housing finance market in Albania. The 10 million Euro loan will help the bank strengthen its mortgage lending operations and enable it to add over 1,000 long-term residential mortgages.  This investment is a core element of IFC's program to support overall development of the mortgage market in Albania.

The project will promote competition and strengthen mortgage finance in Albania.  It forms part of IFC's broader strategy to develop housing finance through increased mortgage origination, both in Albania and throughout the Balkan region.


“We are honored that IFC has become our strategic partner, providing both financing and advisory support for our mortgage lending. We are very optimistic about the future development of Albania’s mortgage market. The support we receive from IFC will help us expand further,” said Edvin Libohova, Banka Popullore’s CEO, at the signing ceremony in Tirana.


Shahbaz Mavaddat, IFC Director for Southern Europe and Central Asia, said, “Financial market development plays a central role in IFC’s strategy for Albania, and we are pleased to help introduce new products such as mortgage finance. By supporting the primary mortgage system, IFC will not only make purchasing a home more affordable, but will also help increase the depth and liquidity of the country’s financial markets.  The investment will also support growth in the construction industry and related sectors.”


“This investment is a core part of IFC's mortgage program in Albania.  We are launching a broad effort to achieve sustained and holistic development impact in the sector.  In addition to the loan, we are providing advice to both Banka Popullore and the Albanian regulatory authorities.  The advisory work with the bank will help standardize mortgage credit and mortgage operations, based on IFC's Mortgage Market Toolkit for emerging markets.  Our work with the regulatory authorities will help enhance the enabling environment for housing finance operations in Albania.  We are pleased with this well-coordinated effort,” added Nadir Mohammed, World Bank Country Manager for Albania.


About IFC

IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, promotes open and competitive markets in developing countries.  IFC supports sustainable private sector companies and other partners in generating productive jobs and delivering basic services, so that people have opportunities to escape poverty and improve their lives. Through FY06, IFC Financial Products has committed more than $56 billion in funding for private sector investments and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC Advisory Services and donor partners have provided more than $1 billion in program support to build small enterprises, to accelerate private participation in infrastructure, to improve the business enabling environment, to increase access to finance, and to strengthen environmental and social sustainability. For more information, please visit
www.ifc.org.

About Banka Popullore

Banka Popullore, a private bank in Albania, started operations in March 2004. The bank has 30 shareholders, who are representatives of the country’s business community. In only three years it has established over 30 branches throughout the country.  Under the motto “supporting each other,” the bank has also established partnerships with the local business community and a good reputation with its clients by encouraging investment in the country as well as economic development. The bank offers a full range of services, including deposits, loans, transfers, and bank guaranties. On April 2007, Société Générale, a high-profile and reputable French Bank, signed an agreement with Banka Popullore to acquire 75 percent of its shares.