Washington, D.C., April 19, 2005—The
International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World
Bank Group, has signed an agreement to provide up to $30 million in long-term
financing to Grupo Financiero Uno, one of the leading financial groups
in Central America. IFC’s financing will help with expansion and consolidation
of the Group in the region.
“This investment represents IFC’s strategy to support local banks and
financial institutions that adhere to international best practices,” said
Paolo Martelli, IFC’s Senior Manager for Mexico and Central America. He
added, “IFC’s investment in Grupo Uno is expected to bolster further
the bank’s standing among banks in Central America and set an example
for others to follow.”
The investment will be in the form of senior loans to Banco Uno S.A. (Panama)
and Banco Uno, S.A. (El Salvador) for liquidity management and funding
diversification purposes. Each loan will have a maturity of seven years
with a two-year grace period.
Dr. Ernesto Fernandez Holmann, Chairman of the Board of Grupo Financiero
Uno, said, “IFC's investment is a vote of confidence in Grupo Financiero
Uno and in the future of the Central American financial markets.” He added
that “IFC's financial strength and experience will be invaluable as Central
America strives to develop its financial infrastructure.”
Grupo Financiero Uno provides, through a network of affiliated companies,
retail banking, credit cards, insurance, and asset management services
to more than 1 million retail customers in Central America. The Group has
operations in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua,
Panama and recently expanded its credit card operation in Mexico.
IFC’s investment in financial institutions in Central America is key to
its strategy to promote the region’s financial integration and increase
the depth and soundness of its financial systems. This strategy focuses
on encouraging economic growth, in particular by developing the region’s
financial and physical infrastructure and supporting competitive manufacturing
and services companies.
IFC seeks to support Central American countries as they work to increase
their competitiveness in the face of accelerating globalization. The investment
in Grupo Uno comes at a key moment, as the recently signed Central America
Free Trade Agreement is creating new opportunities and challenges for the
private sector and the governments of the region.
The mission of IFC (www.ifc.org)
is to promote sustainable private sector investment in transition economies,
helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private
sector investments in the emerging markets, mobilizes capital in the international
financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability,
and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.
From its founding in 1956 through FY04, IFC has committed more than $44
billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143
companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio
as of FY04 was $17.9 billion for its own account and $5.5 billion held
for participants in loan syndications.