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$222m Boost For Privatization Of Romania’s Largest Bank IFC And EBRD Take Joint 25% Stake


In Washington D.C.:
Adriana Gomez

Tel: + (202) 458 5204
Email:
Agomez@ifc.org


Washington DC, November 4, 2003.- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the EBRD are today each taking a 12.5 per cent, plus one share, equity stake in Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR), the largest bank in Romania, to support its  future privatization.

The combined US$ 222 million investment launches a three-phase strategy for the privatization of the state-owned bank.  The next step will be the sale of up to eight per cent of shares to employees of the bank, followed by the sale of the majority stake of at least 51% of the total shares to a strategic investor. The ultimate privatization of BCR is expected by 2006.


The privatization of BCR has long been seen by the Romanian government, and the international community alike, as a critical event for the development of the country’s economy.  Today’s signing should signal confidence in the banking sector and the investment environment ahead of Romania’s accession to the European Union, expected in 2007.


As part of the investment agreements, the EBRD, IFC and APAPS, Romania’s privatisation agency, will help the bank implement an Institution-Building Plan (IBP) to prepare the bank for privatization by supporting, amongst other things, business development, improved corporate governance, risk management, and a review of strategy and operations.


Khosrow Zamani, IFC’s Director of the Southern Europe and Central Asia department, said during the signing ceremony thatIFC’s participation fits the Corporation’s commitment to support government’s efforts to banking sector reform, a key issue for the country’s planned accession to the European Union.” Mr. Zamani also noted that IFC and EBRD’s involvement in the implementation of the Institution Building Plan for BCR will catalyze increased investor interest and improve the terms and conditions for the bank’s privatization.”



Noreen Doyle, First Vice President at the EBRD, speaking in Bucharest, said today’s signing is a result of the government’s strong commitment to pursue economic reforms that can further enhance the country’s transition process.  Ms Doyle added that the EBRD and IFC will work with the bank’s management to further improve BCR, making it a more attractive institution to potential strategic investors.



Ovidiu Musetescu, the President of the Authority for Privatisation and Chairman of the Privatisation Commission of BCR, said that signing the Share Purchase Agreement is of great importance for Romania and a strong indication of the Government’s commitment towards economic reform. The EBRD and IFC participation will give fresh force to the development of this bank, added Mr Musetescu.


Established in 1990, BCR has over 286 branches and agencies across the country, employs over 11,500 staff and has over 3 million clients.


This transaction follows IFC’s 7-year pre-privatization loan of $75 million to BCR in December 2002,  to strengthen the bank’s balance sheet by providing funding with a longer tenor. IFC has successfully supported high profile bank privatisations in several of Europe’s transition economies.



The EBRD’s relationship with BCR dates back to 1996, and since then, both institutions have worked to support small and medium-sized entrepreneurs across the country. The EBRD has also provided BCR with loans to promote mortgage lending across the country.



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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 FY03, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged $22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY02 was $16.7 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held for participants in loan syndications.

The EBRD, owned by 60 governments and two intergovernmental institutions, aims to foster the transition from centrally planned to market economies in central and eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.


Visit the EBRD’s website:
www.ebrd.com
EBRD in London:
Jazz Singh
Tel: +44 207 338 7931
Email: Singhja@ebrd.com