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IFC TO INVEST IN FIRST ZIMBABWEAN-OWNED MERCHANT BANK


Asimina  Caminis



WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 10 -- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has approved an investment of up to Z$3.75 million (US$580,000 equivalent) in the National Merchant Bank of Zimbabwe Limited, Zimbabwe's first indigenously owned merchant bank. The bank's largest shareholder, with a 20 percent equity stake, is National Merchant Bank Investments Limited, an investment company incorporated in Zimbabwe and wholly owned by local businesspeople. A number of Zimbabwe's leading institutional investors will also be among the bank's shareholders: Mining Industries Pension Fund, Local Authorities Pension Fund, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Staff Pension Fund, First Mutual Life Assurance, ZIMNAT Life Assurance Company, National Railway of Zimbabwe Pension Fund, and Rio Tinto Pension Fund. IFC's investment represents 15 percent of the bank's ordinary share capital. Other foreign shareholders include Exatrade Holdings (Pty) Limited, a large South African finance and trading house; and Pryor, McClendon, Counts

& Associates, the largest minority-owned and operated investment bank in the United States. Pryor, McClendon, Counts & Associates will also serve as technical adviser. IFC officials say that demand in Zimbabwe for the types of financial services provided by merchant banks has grown dramatically over the past five years. However, although Zimbabwe's financial sector is one of the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of financial institutions is still small and competition is limited. National Merchant Bank of Zimbabwe will thus help fill a critical gap. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral source of financing for private sector projects in developing countries.

National Merchant Bank of Zimbabwe