|IFC and Bank of Palestine Form Strategic Investment Partnership to Support Private Sector Development in West Bank and Gaza|
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Ramallah, July 28, 2008—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced that it will support the Bank of Palestine’s operations in the West Bank and Gaza. IFC will invest $15 million in the bank and will help strengthen the domestic financial sector and facilitate sustainable private sector development in the highly challenging environment. IFC will acquire 5 percent of the bank’s equity. The investment includes a $3 million trade line for the bank through the IFC Global Trade Finance Program.
The Bank of Palestine is a leading local bank, with the largest distribution network in the West Bank and Gaza. Its universal banking strategy helps small and medium enterprises and low-income people obtain products and services in a conflict-affected region where access to finance is limited. The bank’s shares have been traded on the Palestinian Securities Exchange since November 2005.
Hashim Shawa, General Manager of the Bank of Palestine, said, “We are very excited to engage in a long-term partnership with IFC and believe that its strategic support will strengthen our position in the market. With IFC’s support, we can advance our student loan, trade finance, housing mortgage, and SME lending projects. This will enable us to serve more Palestinians and expand our regional presence across and beyond the West Bank and Gaza.”
Dr Jihad Al Wazir, Governor of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, said, “We welcome IFC’s renewed presence in the financial sector of the West Bank and Gaza. By partnering with the Bank of Palestine, the largest national banking institution, IFC will share its global expertise and knowledge of best practices and corporate governance. We believe that IFC can help foster stability and intermediation of the financial sector, which is important for economic growth. This will also benefit other banks and create a strong demonstration effect for potential financial sector investors.”
Michael Essex, IFC Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said, “IFC is working to broaden and deepen financial intermediation and help develop the private sector in the West Bank and Gaza by introducing long-term capital and debt financing and by promoting best practices in risk management and corporate governance. Developing our long term relationship with the Bank of Palestine will help us meet these objectives.”
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that people should have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through syndications and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
About the Bank of Palestine
Established in 1960, the Bank of Palestine is a leading commercial bank in the West Bank and Gaza, with headquarters in Ramallah. The bank has 720 employees and a network of 31 branches. It operates as a full service commercial bank and engages in retail and corporate lending operations, offering a full range of financial services to more than 200,000 customers. The Bank of Palestine has nearly $1 billion in assets. It was listed on the Palestinian Securities Exchange in November 2005 and is considered one of the top three “blue-chip” stocks traded. The bank also has a network of over 1,500 point of sale machines in merchant outlets that support all credit card transactions in the Palestinian Territories. For more information, visit www.bankofpalestine.com.