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IFC Invests in Iraq’s Banking Sector


In Washington:
Georg Schmidt

Phone: +1 (202) 458-2934

Fax:      +1 (202) 974-4384

Email:
Gschmidt@ifc.org


Washington, D.C., March 10, 2005 - The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement to acquire a minority stake in Credit Bank of Iraq. IFC’s investment will be undertaken in partnership with National Bank of Kuwait, which was among the first three international financial institutions to receive a full domestic banking license from the Iraqi Central Bank.

IFC and National Bank of Kuwait seek to increase the capital of Credit Bank of Iraq in stages in order to make it a leading player in the domestic financial market. The transaction aims to pave the way for further investments and knowledge transfer by international banks.  Their engagement is critical for enabling Iraq’s financial system to play a catalytic role in the country’s ongoing reconstruction efforts.


Jyrki Koskelo, IFC’s director for financial markets said, “We welcome the opportunity to cooperate with National Bank of Kuwait and Credit Bank in Iraq. Our investment will help introduce international best practice to the country and support the development of the domestic financial sector.”

 
Sami Haddad, IFC’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, noted, “A well-functioning financial sector is crucial for Iraq’s overall development. IFC’s investment in Credit Bank of Iraq will strengthen not only the financial industry but the national economy as a whole.”


Robert Eid, group general manager for National Bank of Kuwait’s international operations and subsidiaries, added, “We greatly value our partnership with IFC and look forward to working together in rebuilding the financial infrastructure in Iraq as well as in other initiatives in the region.”


National Bank of Kuwait is Kuwait’s largest bank and one of the most successful financial institutions in the Gulf region.  The NBK group includes Geneva-based NBK Suisse; NBK International, a wholly owned London subsidiary with a branch in Paris; branches in New York, Singapore and Bahrain; and representative offices in Thailand and Vietnam. It also holds  a majority stake in National Bank of Kuwait in Lebanon. Most recently, NBK acquired banking licenses in Saudi Arabia and Jordan.  The group is also part of a consortium that manages Iraq’s Trade Bank.


The mission of IFC (
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, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY04, IFC has committed more than $44 billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY04 was $17.9 billion for its own account and $5.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.