WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 16 -- The International
Finance Corporation (IFC) has approved US$100 million in financing for
Socma Americana S.A. (Socma), one of the principal holding companies of
Argentina's Macri Group, to help fund investments in infrastructure, high-technology
information systems, and food processing. Socma-related companies are now
making a range of investments with an estimated total cost of US$740 million.
Around 75 percent of these investments will be in the infrastructure sector.
Two of Socma's subsidiaries, Sideco Americana S.A. and Itron S.A., are
responsible for the Group's infrastructure and information systems activities,
respectively. IFC is providing a US$25 million loan to Socma for its own
account and is arranging a US$60 million loan to be syndicated with international
financial institutions. Approximately US$50 million of the loan will be
on-lent to various operational subsidiaries to help fund their investment
programs. IFC will also make an equity investment of US$15 million in
Sideco Americana S.A. "One of IFC's major objectives in Argentina
is to help develop and expand the efficiency of private companies in the
infrastructure sector," according to Mr. Helmut Paul, Director of
IFC's Latin America and the Caribbean Department. "These investments
provides IFC an opportunity to finance diverse new investments in this
and other priority sectors." "Socma's infrastructure investments
are bringing private capital and management expertise to a sector that
has suffered from decades of under-funding and poor maintenance,"
added Mr. Everett J. Santos, Director of IFC's Infrastructure Department.
"These investments will provide a wide variety of improved infrastructure
services for the citizens of Argentina." IFC is a member of the World
Bank Group and is the largest multilateral source of equity and loan finance
for private sector projects in developing countries.