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WASHINGTON, D.C., Apr. 15 -- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has approved an equity investment of US$50 million in the Asian Infrastructure Fund, which will invest in private sector infrastructure projects in the developing economies of Asia, including the Indian subcontinent. IFC will also participate in the equity capital of the Asian Infrastructure Fund Management Company (AIFMC), which has expertise in infrastructure and knowledge of the Asian region and will serve as manager of the Fund. The Fund will invest in utility, transportation, and telecommunications projects, which are private sector-sponsored or which are being privatized. It will focus on equity and equity-related investments. Peregrine Investments Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong-based merchant bank, is the Fund's lead sponsor. Other initial investors in the Fund -- which will also be shareholders of AIFMC -- are Soros Fund Management's Asian Infrastructure Development Fund (or an affiliate), the Asian Development Bank, and Frank Russell Company. "IFC's participation in this innovative Fund will help mobilize private sector investment to meet the enormous demand for financing for infrastructure projects in Asia," said Everett Santos, Director of IFC's Infrastructure Department. "The role of the private sector in Asian infrastructure is growing rapidly, because of the efficiency it brings to both the implementation and operation of infrastructural projects. The Asian Infrastructure Fund is likely to serve as a model for future infrastructure financing vehicles. It also allows investors to participate in the region's significant growth." Several major equity investments in private infrastructure projects have already been identified by the Fund in China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Fund will be completely independent and not tied to equipment manufacturers or contractors. IFC is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group and is the largest source of multilateral financing for private sector projects in developing countries. During fiscal 1993, financing approved by IFC for infrastructure projects amounted to US$380 million. During the past nine months, an additional US$250 million has been approved in projects worth several billion dollars. (30)