Vienna, June 14, 2004-The InternationalFinance Corporation (IFC),the private sector financing arm ofthe World Bank Group, signed agreements today withRaiffeisenZentralbankжsterreich AG (RZB), to provide200 million to support the growth of its fully ownedsubsidiaryRaiffeisen InternationalBank-Holding AG (Raiffeisen International)in Centraland Eastern Europe. Half of IFC''s investment takes the form oflong term loans to Raiffeisen International''s subsidiaries inRussia, Romania, Belarus and Ukraine. The other half is an optionto invest equity in Raiffeisen International, if needed for thefurther expansion of the group.
"We are proud partners of RZB and pleased to support one ofthe most successful banking networks in the region. RZB has broughtbanking services to many underserved markets, often when no otherforeign banks were willing to invest, and it is IFC''s mandateto support the development of banking services in such countries.RZB''s growth and results in the region speak forthemselves", commented Peter Woicke, IFC''s Executive VicePresident.
"We welcome and appreciate the continued support of IFC,our long-time partner in many earlier projects. Today marks animportant step towards our strategy of opening RaiffeisenInternational to other investors", said Walter Rothensteiner,Chairman of RZB''s Board of Management and President ofRaiffeisen International''s Supervisory Board.
Edward Nassim, IFC''s Director for Central and Eastern Europeadded:"Our investment in Raiffeisen International provides animportant stimulus for the banking sector in the region, especiallyin Eastern Europe, where Raiffeisen is showing the strongestcommitment of any international bank."
"The outlook for growth and profits in the region continuesto be excellent, and we are well positioned to meet the challengesin all of our key markets. The IFC''s support is a valuablecontribution to ensure further dynamic growth of RaiffeisenInternational in the region," said Herbert Stepic, DeputyChairman of RZB''s Board of Management and Chairman ofRaiffeisen International''s Board of Management.
Raiffeisen International, 100 per cent owned by RaiffeisenZentralbankжsterreich AG (RZB), Vienna, is the holding company for RZB''s most important subsidiaries in CEE. RZB is the central institution of the Austrian Raiffeisen Banking Group, the country''s most powerful banking group. RZB also considers Central and Eastern Europe as its home market and via Raiffeisen International operates a network of 15 subsidiary banks in as many markets of the region, with more than 800 banking outlets. In September 2003, Financial Times magazine The Banker has awarded the prestigious prize"Bank of the Year 2003" to RZB inAustria and its network banks in Albania, Belarus, Bosnia andHerzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro and Slovakia. In January 2004,the US magazine Global Finance awarded the title"Best TradeFinance Bank in Central and Eastern Europe" to RZB and itsnetwork banks in Central and Eastern Europe.
IFC''s strategy in Europe''s emerging financial markets isthreefold. First, IFC supports the development of mortgage andsmall business finance through banks and leasing companies. Second,IFC works to strengthen local financial institutions, includinginstitutions to be privatized, to develop banking services andincrease financing available to local businesses. And finally, inthe more developed markets, IFC actively promotes the developmentof efficient capital markets. By supporting RZB''s network inthe region IFC is making considerable contributions in all of theseareas.
The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sectorinvestment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty andimprove people''s lives. IFC finances private sector investmentsin the developing world, mobilizes capital in the internationalfinancial markets, helps clients improve social and environmentalsustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice togovernments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through 2003,has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged$22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developingcountries. IFC''s worldwide committed portfolio as of 2003 was$16.8 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held forparticipants in loan syndications.