World Bank's IFC shows strong 2007 fin year

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Washington. Oct 2: International Finance Corp, the private-sector lending arm of the World Bank, reported its strongest financial results in its history on Tuesday, buoyed by expanding private sector opportunities in emerging markets.

It said operating earnings for fiscal 2007 rose to a record $2.6 billion, compared with $1.4 billion in 2006, reflecting growth across all of its main product lines, including loans, equity, debt securities and treasury operations.

IFC has long loaned funds to the private sector in the developing world to reduce poverty and promote economic growth.

Its 2007 results showed that its new investments rose to $8.2 billion during the year, including $989 million in signed guarantees, an increase of 22 percent over $6.7 billion in the previous year, IFC said.

The largest share of IFC investments went to Europe and Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa, where commitments doubled to $1.4 billion.

IFC business also topped $1 billion in the Middle East and North Africa.

The World Bank unit said it would give $1.75 billion of its 2007 earnings to the Bank's fund for poor countries, the International Development Association, to promote private sector development over the next three years.

While the IFC has been profitable since its inception in 1956, new World Bank President Robert Zoellick has emphasized he wants the agency to transfer its success in the private sector markets to poor countries.

''The private-sector is an effective engine of long-term growth and job creation in emerging markets,'' IFC chief Lars Thunell said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to its end-of-year results, IFC net income rose to $2.6 billion from $1.27 billion in the previous year.

Altogether, IFC supported 299 investments in 69 countries, typically funding about 25 percent of total project costs.

This year 38 percent of IFC investments were in frontier countries, where private companies may still be too wary to go.

New loans increased 13 percent to its largest-ever volume of $5.6 billion.


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