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IFC Invests $100 Million in Suramericana Group in Colombia


Adriana Gomez
Phone:(202) 458-5204

Fax:(202) 974-4384

E-mail:
agomez@ifc.org


Washington DC, May 28, 2002The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, announced today a US$100 million investment in Suramericana Group (Suramericana) in Colombia, one of the most important groups in the country’s finance and insurance sectors. The investment represents one of the most comprehensive projects ever undertaken by IFC in Latin America.

This investment involves corporate financing and advisory elements in support of Suramericana’s medium-term strategy, which includes the formation of strategic partnerships in key operating subsidiaries; preparation of individual companies for public offerings of shares; and divestment of non-core shareholdings.


IFC will make a series of debt and equity investments in Suramericana Group companies and it will advise Suramericana on key elements of its operational and financial strategy. IFC will also assist Suramericana in the development and adoption of  corporate governance practices that will set new standards in Colombia with respect to transparency and disclosure, treatment of minority shareholders, and the operations and accountability of its boards of directors.

       
“This deal fits well with IFC’s strategy to support the private sector in Colombia, which has been key to the economic advancement of the country. The Colombian private sector is reinventing itself, and IFC wants to support this process”, said Bernard Pasquier, IFC’s Director of  the Latin America and Caribbean Department.  


Mr. Paolo Martelli, IFC’s Regional Representative for the Andean region added “These types of projects are critical for the modernization of the Colombian economy.  IFC expects to be able to provide similar support to other Colombian private sector groups in the near future.”


Nicanor Restrepo, President of Suramericana de Inversiones, stressed the enormous importance of this new relationship between IFC and the Suramericana Group at the holding level, as well as with Colombia, especially in these decisive times. He noted that IFC has been a shareholder for several years of Corfinsura, an affiliate of Suramericana. Mr. Restrepo added: “The resources approved by IFC to Suramericana, which include a long-term loan with an exchangeable component and an equity investment, constitute an excellent support to Suramericana's reorganization plan of its investments and debt management. IFC’s financing is also a vote of confidence in the private sector of Colombia and the Andean region.”


For IFC, this investment will also help demonstrate the benefits of improved corporate governance practices and transparency and it will support the Colombian government’s efforts in this area. This, together with the anticipated public offerings of shares by Suramericana companies, will help to stem the recent decline in  trading volumes experienced by the country’s stock market.


Suramericana is affiliated with Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño (GEA), which includes three Medellin-based groups incorporating major companies in the cement, food, and financial services sector. GEA is one of the leading economic groups in Colombia, employing over 80,000 people and accounting for about 27 percent of Colombia’s stock market capitalization.


IFC’s current portfolio in Colombia accounts for $123 million. Since its first approval in 1959, IFC has financed more than 80 projects in Colombia. IFC’s strategic priorities include financial markets; infrastructure; manufacturing and services and mining. Currently, IFC is focusing in strengthening capital markets and facilitating access to capital for small and medium enterprises, as well as assisting in housing finance by helping develop a secondary mortgage market.


IFC has also been working closely with the Colombian government and the private sector to improve securities regulations and to develop private sector corporate governance codes.  


IFC's mission (
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, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.

Since its founding in 1956 through the close of the last fiscal year on June 30, 2001, IFC committed more than $31 billion of its own funds and arranged $20 billion in syndications for 2,636 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's committed portfolio at the end of FY01 was $14.3 billion.