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Nov 23, 2015 7:30 AM ET

Archived: IFC Provides $100 Million to Banco General to Support Housing Finance in Panama

iCrowdNewswire - Nov 23, 2015

IFC Provides $100 Million to Banco General to Support Housing Finance in

Panama City, November 19, 2015 — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group,
today announced a five year $100 million loan to Banco General S.A. to
increase access to mortgage finance for lower and middle-income families in

Over the past decade, Panama has been one of the fastest growing economies
in Latin America. Yet the housing deficit remains a challenge. One in four
Panamanians lives in substandard housing, and that number has grown in
recent years. Moreover, Panama’s mortgage market is underdeveloped.
Residential mortgages comprise 22 percent of Panama’s gross domestic
product. This is lower than developed economies, where residential
mortgages make up  40-75 percent of GDP. The shortage is particularly acute
for the lower and middle-income sector, which traditionally has had fewer
alternatives in the country. IFC’s loan will complement the government of
Panama’s efforts to reduce the housing shortage.

Banco General, an IFC client since 2000, is the leading mortgage lender in
Panama, with over 60 years of experience.  In 2011, IFC provided Banco
General with a US$50 million loan to increase mortgage financing; this
resulted in more than 1,300 loans for lower and middle-income families.
Nearly half those home loans were issued to female borrowers.

“Buying a home is an exciting milestone,” said Francisco Sierra, Chief
Financial Officer of Banco General. “With IFC’s continued support, we are
helping more Panamanians become homeowners, in many cases for the first
time. This new financing helps us grow our portfolio and contributes to
strengthening our local communities.”

Research shows that support for housing finance improves the quality of
life of lower and middle-income households and generates employment in a
range of related industries. Further, the housing market is one of the
highest contributors to job growth.

“The proposed investment is part of a continued effort by IFC to support
access to housing finance for lower and middle-income Panamanians.  The
investment would support Panama’s economic development as more families
will be able to obtain mortgage financing,” said Carlos Mayorga, Portfolio
Manager in Latin America and the Caribbean for IFC’s Financial Institutions
Group. “This financing for Banco General builds on our successful,
long-running partnership in a sector that is important for Panama.

The financing is consistent with IFC’s strategy in Panama which focuses on
supporting continued high economic growth and ensuring inclusion and
opportunities for lower and middle-income families. At the close of fiscal
year 2015, IFC had a committed investment portfolio in Panama totaling $855
million, including $204 million in mobilizations. Last year, IFC clients in
Panama supported 3,000 jobs.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development
institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with
more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our capital, expertise, and
influence, to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY15, our
long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $18 billion,
helping the private sector play an essential role in the global effort to
end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information,
visit www.ifc.org.
About Banco General

Banco  General is Panama’s largest private retail bank, with leading market
positions  in  local  mortgage  loans,  local  corporate  loans,  and local
deposits; with more than 4,190 employees trained and committed to providing
exceptional service to more than 825,000 clients through its 69 branches in
Panama,  a  full  service  bank in Costa Rica with 9 office branches, and 5
representation offices in Central America, Mexico, Colombia and Peru. Since
1997,  Banco  General  has held International Investment Grade Ratings from
Standard  and  Poor’s  and Fitch Ratings. The institution is recognized for
its  financial strength, solid leadership, and its permanent involvement in
the community via its foundation “Sus Buenos Vecinos” (Your Good Neighbors)
and  volunteer program, “Vecinos en Acción” (Neighbors in Action). For more
information, please visit www.bgeneral.com.


Contact Information:

John McNally, IFC
Phone: +1 202 458 0723
E-mail: jmcnally@ifc.org

Jacqueline Souter, Banco General
Phone: (507) 303-7534
E-mail: jsouter@bgeneral.com

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