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IFC WILL FINANCE AIRPORT EXPANSION IN COSTA RICA


Adriana Gomez
Phone:  (202) 458-5204

Fax:        (202) 974-4384

E-mail:    agomez@ifc.org


Washington DC, March 28, 2001―The International Finance Corporation approved a US$120 million investment in Gestión Aeroportuaria AGI de Costa Rica, S.A., to expand and upgrade the Juan Santamaría International Airport in Costa Rica, in an effort to support the fast-growing tourism and industrial sectors.

IFC’s investment consists of a loan of $35 million for its own account and a syndicated loan of $85 million arranged jointly by Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.  The project is key to Costa Rica’s program to boost infrastructure development, and includes refurbishing the main runway, constructing a new taxiway, and rehabilitating and expanding the passenger terminal.


Juan Santamaría International Airport is the busiest airport in Central America, serving an estimated 2.3 million passengers annually, with annual passenger growth rates averaging over 8 percent in the last ten years.  This growth reflects the country’s many attractions as an eco-tourism destination.  Tourism itself has grown at a rate of 15-20 percent in recent years and over 1.2 million foreign tourists visited the country in 1998 alone.  Costa Rica is also one of the fastest-growing and most industrialized countries in Central America, and its business outlook is one of the best in the region.


Gestión Aeroportuaria AGI de Costa Rica, S.A., a consortium of private sector companies, will carry out this $161 million project under a 20-year management contract awarded by the government following a competitive bidding process.  The principal project sponsors, Bechtel Enterprises Holdings, Inc. and Airport Group International Holdings LLC, are both internationally recognized private companies with significant experience worldwide.


Declan Duff, Director of IFC’s Infrastructure Department, said that this investment represents a major step forward in increasing the efficiency of Costa Rica’s transportation sector through involvement of the private sector.  Mr. Duff added that the project would serve as a model in attracting other international financiers to invest in the country’s infrastructure projects.


Carlos Aguilar, Managing Director for Latin America of lead sponsor Bechtel Enterprises, and President of Gestión Aeroportuaria AGI de Costa Rica, S.A. said the investment will finance a major upgrade of the existing airport facilities, and comes at a critical time when demand from both passengers and cargo customers is outstripping the airport's capacity.


Bechtel Enterprises Holdings, Inc. is the development, financing and ownership affiliate of Bechtel Group, Inc, one of the world’s premier engineering and construction companies.  Bechtel has successfully completed more than 75 airport projects, including the new Chek Lap Kok International Airport in Hong Kong, and has participated in other major international airports in Miami, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles.  Airport Group International Holdings LLC was acquired by TBI Group in September 1999, creating one of the largest airport operators and developers in the world.  The enlarged TBI Group, with 32 airports worldwide, serves approximately 40 million passengers and provides airline service to over 130 airlines.


The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries as a way 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.