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IFC INVESTS US$7.5 MILLION IN WEST AFRICAN REGIONAL BANK


L. Joseph
Phone:(202) 473-7700
Fax:(202) 974-4384
E-mail:ljoseph@ifc.org


WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 1999 --- The International Finance Corporation has approved an investment in Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) in an effort to boost the domestic banking sector in West Africa and support regional financial integration, IFC Executive Vice President Peter Woicke -- who is in sub-Saharan Africa on a five-nation tour -- announced today.

The investment of $7.5 million takes the form of equity and quasi-equity in ETI, which has been in existence for 10 years.  ETI is West Africa's first indigenous banking group with seven banks located in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Togo.  IFC's investment will help ETI implement important strategic initiatives such as creating new banks, launching specialized regional financial service companies, increasing ETI's ownership stake in some of its affiliates, and upgrading the group's technology and training capabilities to support growth.


The project will enhance ETI's institutional capability and enable it to play a more effective role in supporting the economic development needs of the region which has been dominated by foreign-owned or controlled banks.


IFC has supported ETI in the past by working directly with individual affiliates, such as Ecobank Burkina Faso and Ecobank Ghana.  The Ecobank network of banks and IFC are also co-financing small and medium enterprises in the region.  In addition, IFC put ETI in touch with the African Management Services Company (AMSCO), a training and management services company, which IFC co-sponsors with other leading donors.  AMSCO is providing ETI with several senior managers and has signed an umbrella agreement to help strengthen management of the rapidly expanding group.


IFC, part of the World Bank Group, fosters economic growth in the developing world by financing private sector investments, mobilizing capital in the international financial markets, and providing technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.