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IFC Extends Funding to Unionbank in Bulgaria


Adriana Gomez
Phone:  (202) 458-5204

Fax:  (202) 974-4384

E-mail:  
agomez@ifc.org


Sofia, October 29, 2002—The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector developing arm of the World Bank Group, will provide a credit line of US$5 million to Unionbank AD in Bulgaria for on-lending to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs).

Founded in 1994, Commercial bank Unionbank has developed a strong franchise in providing banking services to SMEs.  Unionbank is headquartered in Sofia and has nine branches and five offices in key Bulgarian cities.  As of September 30, 2002, Unionbank’s assets and capital amounted to $66 million and $13 million, respectively.


IFC’s financing will help extend the maturity of Unionbank’s funding base and will be used as a source of term funding for the development of small and medium business finance activities. Lending in Bulgaria is heavily concentrated towards the large corporate and public sectors.  The SME sector is underserved, and the availability of term finance for such enterprises is scarce.  The IFC credit line is aimed at addressing this gap.


Khosrow Zamani, IFC’s Director for Southern Europe and Central Asia. said: “Stimulating financial intermediation is of particular focus for IFC, especially to the SME sector, which is expected to drive Bulgaria’s future economic growth and generate employment.  The investment is also a signal of IFC’s continued commitment to develop the private sector and work with locally-owned financial institutions.”


Evgeny Gospodinov, Unionbank’s Management Board member, said: “The investment of IFC will allow Unionbank to strengthen its position as a leader in banking services to SMEs.  With its seven-year maturity and conditions for sub-borrowers, this credit line will supplement the bank’s current activity focusing on the small and medium businesses, expand the range of credit products and contribute to improvement of their quality to the benefit of customers.”  Mr. Gospodinov added:  “Unionbank will carry out its operations in accordance with environmental management system, which will verify that subprojects comply, at a minimum, with the environmental, labor, health and safety regulations of Bulgaria and public consultation requirements.”


IFC’s mission 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, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.  Since its founding in 1956, IFC has committed more than $34 billion of its own funds and arranged $21 billion in syndications for 2,825 companies in 140 developing countries.  IFC’s committed portfolio at the end of FY02 was $15.1 billion, with an additional $6.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.

Unionbank