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IFC Helps Advance Privatization of Romania's Largest Bank


In Washington:
Georg Schmidt

Phone:+1 (202) 458 2934
Cell Phone: +1 ( 202) 294 4854

Fax:+1 (202) 974 4384

Email:
Gschmidt@ifc.org



WASHINGTON, D.C./BUCHAREST, June 8, 2004
—  The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, today announced the disbursement of $111 million for a 12.5 percent, plus one share, equity stake in Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR), in advance of its impending privatization. The announcement was made after major improvements in BCR’s corporate governance.


In US dollar terms, the disbursement represents IFC’s largest-ever single equity investment in a bank. IFC’s stake in BCR has been purchased directly from the Romanian government. Concurrently, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has also disbursed the Euro equivalent of $111 million for an identical equity stake in BCR. BCR is Romania’s largest bank in terms of assets, with a customer base of nearly 4 million.


IFC, together with EBRD, has spearheaded major changes in corporate governance at BCR to prepare it for privatization, bringing the bank into line with EU standards. In addition to giving assurance to potential strategic investors, the corporate governance improvements at BCR will provide a model of good practice for local financial institutions and other firms to copy, aiding Romania in its accession to the EU.


Key to the corporate governance overhaul is the adoption of an European-style two-tiered board structure at BCR. An independent supervisory board, composed entirely of non-executives of the bank, has been established to oversee a management board of senior executives responsible for the daily operations of the bank. As an essential step towards bringing risk management practices into line with Bank for International Settlements guidelines, BCR’s supervisory board created an audit and compliance committee.


In addition, a compensation committee was formed to help ensure that the interests of senior management, employees, and shareholders are well aligned. IFC and EBRD organized a training program in Spring 2004 for BCR’s supervisory board and management board members to prepare them to carry out their duties under the new governance structure.


Peter Woicke, IFC Executive Vice President, said, “I am particularly pleased that IFC, along with EBRD, is helping improve BCR’s corporate governance structure. The new, modern system of checks and balances will catalyze increased investor interest and improve the terms and conditions for the bank's privatization.”


Note to Editors:
For background information on IFC’s investments in Banca Comerciala Romana, see IFC press releases,

IFC and EBRD Take Joint 25 Percent Stake in Romania's Largest Bank”, and of “IFC Provides $75 million, Seven-Year Loan to BCR”.

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.