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IFC Provides $100 Million to Banco General S.A. to Support Housing Finance in Panama


In Washington:
John McNally, IFC
Phone: +1 202 458 0723
E-mail:
jmcnally@ifc.org

In Panama City, Panama:
Jacqueline Souter, Banco General
Phone: (507) 303-7534
E-mail:
jsouter@bgeneral.com


Panama City, November 19, 2015 — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced a five year $100 million loan to Banco General S.A. to increase access to mortgage finance for lower and middle-income families in Panama.  

Over the past decade, Panama has been one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. Yet the housing deficit remains a challenge. One in four Panamanians lives in substandard housing, and that number has grown in recent years. Moreover, Panama's mortgage market is underdeveloped. Residential mortgages comprise 22 percent of Panama’s gross domestic product. This is lower than developed economies, where residential mortgages make up  40-75 percent of GDP. The shortage is particularly acute for the lower and middle-income sector, which traditionally has had fewer alternatives in the country. IFC’s loan will complement the government of Panama’s efforts to reduce the housing shortage.

Banco General, an IFC client since 2000, is the leading mortgage lender in Panama, with over 60 years of experience.  In 2011, IFC provided Banco General with a $50 million loan to increase mortgage financing; this resulted in more than 1,300 loans for lower and middle-income families. Nearly half those home loans were issued to female borrowers.

“Buying a home is an exciting milestone,” said Francisco Sierra, Chief Financial Officer of Banco General. “With IFC’s continued support, we are helping more Panamanians become homeowners, in many cases for the first time. This new financing helps us grow our portfolio and contributes to strengthening our local communities.”

Research shows that support for housing finance improves the quality of life of lower and middle-income households and generates employment in a range of related industries. Further, the housing market is one of the highest contributors to job growth.

“The proposed investment is part of a continued effort by IFC to support access to housing finance for lower and middle-income Panamanians.  The investment would support Panama’s economic development as more families will be able to obtain mortgage financing,” said Carlos Mayorga, Portfolio Manager in Latin America and the Caribbean for IFC’s Financial Institutions Group. “This financing for Banco General builds on our successful, long-running partnership in a sector that is important for Panama.

The financing is consistent with IFC’s strategy in Panama which focuses on supporting continued high economic growth and ensuring inclusion and opportunities for lower and middle-income families. At the close of fiscal year 2015, IFC had a committed investment portfolio in Panama totaling $855 million, including $204 million in mobilizations. Last year, IFC clients in Panama supported 3,000 jobs.  
About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our capital, expertise, and influence, to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY15, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $18 billion, helping the private sector play an essential role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About Banco General

Banco General is Panama’s largest private retail bank, with leading market positions in local mortgage loans, local corporate loans, and local deposits; with more than 4,190 employees trained and committed to providing exceptional service to more than 825,000 clients through its 69 branches in Panama, a full service bank in Costa Rica with 9 office branches, and 5 representation offices in Central America, Mexico, Colombia and Peru. Since 1997, Banco General has held International Investment Grade Ratings from Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. The institution is recognized for its financial strength, solid leadership, and its permanent involvement in the community via its foundation “Sus Buenos Vecinos” (Your Good Neighbors) and volunteer program, “Vecinos en Acción” (Neighbors in Action). For more information, please visit www.bgeneral.com.