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IFC signs partnership with Moroccan Bank to Improve Risk Management and Lending Practices to Small and Medium Enterprises


In Washington:
Ahmed Badawi-Malik

Phone: +1 (202) 458-7148

Fax:      +1 (202) 974-4384

Email:
Abadawi@ifc.org

In Rabat:

Joumana Cobein

Phone: + (212) 3765-2479

Fax:     + (212) 3765-2893

Email:
jcobein@ifc.org


RABAT/WASHINGTON, D.C., July, 1, 2004 – The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, today signed a partnership agreement with Banque Centrale Populaire (BCP), a state-controlled bank in Morocco and the largest in the country in terms of deposits, to help improve its risk management and credit underwriting operations in lending to small and medium enterprises. North Africa Enterprise Development (NAED), a technical assistance program for Morocco, Algeria and Egypt that is run by IFC, will manage the agreement with the bank.

The advisory mandate for Banque Centrale Populaire aims to advise the bank in the building of a Basle II-compliant risk management framework, which will be focused on monitoring loans to small businesses. It will include the development of an internal risk rating system for small and medium enterprises and large companies that are not listed on the Casablanca bourse, and a credit scoring system for very small businesses.


Sami Haddad, IFC Director for Middle East and North Africa, noted, “Through the help of IFC in the adoption of international best practices in credit underwriting and risk management, BCP will consolidate its position as a successful and sustainable SME Bank in Morocco and a leading financial institution in the region” Noureddine El Omary, the Chairman of Banque Credit Populaire, added, “This project takes place in the framework of the Bank’s Strategic Development Plan. It will allow BCP to accelerate the works, already started, related to risk management and  to the improvement of the quality of the services delivered to the SME segment, which represent a privileged segment for the Group”


Banque Centrale Populaire heads 12 regional credit unions (Banques Populaires Régionales). The Banque Populaire Group is the biggest lender in the country to small and medium enterprises. It has a wide network of 424  branches, with total assets of $8.8 billion, market shares of 29.9% deposit and 21.3% loans. Banque Centrale Populaire is the first financial institution in Morocco to receive ratings (BB/stable/B) from Standard & Poor’s, a leading international ratings agency. The bank successfully issued an initial public offering for 20 per cent of its equity in June 2004.


NAED is the first
small business development facility in the Middle East and North Africa region and is managed from IFC's headquarters in Cairo, with IFC offices in Algiers and Rabat as well. It is a five-year $20 million technical assistance program for small businesses, cofunded by IFC and donor countries, including Belgium, France, Italy, and Switzerland. NAED's key objective is to foster job creation in Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco by supporting the development of micro, small and medium enterprises -- the bedrock of all those countries' economies. Improving the access of those enterprises to finance by helping local financial institutions develop the appropriate products and systems is a major thrust of NAED’s technical assistance in North Africa.

The mission of IFC (
www.ifc.org) 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, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY03, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged $22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY03 was $16.8 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held for participants in loan syndications.