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IFC EXTENDS US$45 MILLION TO FIVE COMMERCIAL BANKS IN LEBANON


Bibi Kasrai


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 21 -- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is to provide five Lebanese private sector commercial banks with a US$45 million long-term credit line facility for onlending to local small and medium-sized businesses, for projects that are too small for IFC's direct involvement. The IFC credit facility will consist of a US$30 million loan for IFC's own account and an additional US$15 million loan syndicated with international financial institutions. It is expected to help create 8,000 jobs in Lebanon. "The line of credit is designed to assist in the reconstruction of Lebanon," said Andre Hovaguimian, Director of IFC's Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia Department. "Specifically, it will help Lebanese small and medium-scale enterprises that have survived the protracted period of strife to replace or modernize plant and equipment or expand their scale of operations." "This is IFC's first financial intermediary lending project in Lebanon, which will help the Lebanese banking sect
or play an effective role in the reconstruction of the country by providing much-needed term loans to the private sector," said Michael Ayoub, the IFC investment officer in charge of the project. The borrowing banks - Banque Audi SAL; Banque du Liban et d'Outre Mer SAL; Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries SAL; Byblos Bank SAL; and Fransabank SAL are leading commercial banks in Lebanon. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest source of direct loan and equity financing for private projects in developing countries. (30)