Press Releases

IFC Investment to Connect Rural Farmers in South America to Global Markets

In Washington, D.C.:
Zibu Sibanda

Phone: 202-473-0605


Adriana Gomez

Phone: 202-458-5204


Washington DC, September 17, 2008—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has agreed to finance the expansion and improvement of the largest barge fleet on the Parana-Paraguay river system, an investment that will help farmers in difficult-to-access regions of South America deliver their products to global export markets.

IFC will provide a $60 million financing package to UABL Limited, whose river barges currently transport iron ore and soy products that are destined for markets in Europe and Asia. IFC will also help raise an additional $15 million from third parties.

“IFC is very pleased to be able to support UABL Limited’s expansion, which will connect landlocked Bolivia, Western Brazil, and Paraguay with the Atlantic Ocean. This investment will increase the options for river transportation over more than 2,200 kilometers of waterways, using a fuel-efficient method that will help mitigate climate change,” said Bernard E. Sheahan, IFC Director for Infrastructure.

Felipe Menéndez Ross, President of UABL Limited, said, “We are very pleased to have agreed on this very significant long term financing with IFC as it will help us to execute our expansion plan in the river system where we expect to invest over U$S 200 million by the end of 2010.” UABL Limited intends to purchase newer and more fuel-efficient engines for some of its barges and refurbish the hulls on others to increase carrying capacity. The company also plans to acquire additional tugboats and barges.

The fleet expansion is expected to support agricultural development in areas that are part of the river system but lack adequate road or rail links. It will help mitigate climate change by increasing river-transportation capacity, which is more environmentally friendly than truck transportation. The project also is expected to lower transportation costs along the river system, promote competition, and create jobs in the region.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase over the previous year. For more information, visit

About UABL Limited

UABL Limited is owned by Ultrapetrol, Bahamas, an industrial transportation company serving the marine transportation needs in target markets. With its extensive and diverse fleet of vessels, it serves the shipping markets for grain, vegetable oils, minerals, crude oil, petroleum, and refined petroleum products, as well as the offshore oil platform supply market and the leisure passenger cruise market.