WASHINGTON, D.C. February 6, 2001
—IFC Executive Vice President Peter Woicke will travel to Japan, Hong Kong SAR, China, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines from February 7-19, 2001.
Mr. Woicke will meet with government officials, participate in business roundtables with IFC clients and other entrepreneurs, and speak with leaders of the foreign and local business communities. The purpose of the visit is to hear directly from IFC’s clients and from regional policymakers on the business environment in the region, and to discuss areas in which IFC can provide investment or policy support. Mr. Woicke will focus in particular on the need to create a better climate for investment, strengthen the financial sector, improve legal systems, and reduce corporate debt levels. He will emphasize the importance of corporate restructuring and good governance in attracting investment to East Asia. One key area for discussion will be the challenges and opportunities facing the private sector across East Asia in light of China’s imminent entry into the World Trade Organization.
Mr. Woicke will sign several new transactions in Hong Kong, Indonesia, and the Philippines as part of IFC’s continuing effort to stimulate more private sector activity in post-crisis Asia. The projects include assistance to small and medium enterprises, investments in trade facilities, and sustainable forestry. The investments highlight IFC’s commitment to supporting policy reforms and economic opportunity which aim to reduce poverty and which respect the natural environment.
In Japan, IFC’s second largest shareholder, Mr. Woicke will meet (Feb. 7-8) with government, banking, and business leaders. Japan’s government and business communities have made notable contributions to economic development through their partnerships with IFC in a variety of sectors. Japanese institutional investors are also among the most active participants in IFC’s loan syndication program.
IFC’s held portfolio in China, including participations, now totals approximately US$800 million. Investments range from landmark investments such as New China Life Insurance Company and the Sichuan SME Investment Fund to support for newly privatized state-owned enterprises and critical sectors such as private healthcare.
IFC has targeted western China for many years and has supported nine projects in China's Western provinces. Following its success in Sichuan over the past seven years, IFC is now working in a second province, Shaanxi.
In Hong Kong, Feb. 9, Mr. Woicke will meet with the Chief Executive Mr. Tung Che-Hwa. Financial institutions in Hong Kong have been active participants in IFC’s loan syndication program. A joint IFC-World Bank office was set up in Hong Kong in September 2000 as part of the Bank’s decentralization to the field to better serve its member countries and support its financial recovery process in Asia.
While in Hong Kong, Mr. Woicke will also announce a new investment in Sino-Forest Corporation, a forestry project in China’s Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces. Besides purchasing and replanting eucalyptus and aspen plantations, the project will manufacture wooden boards, doors, and cabinets for use in China’s interior decoration and furniture industries. It will also help to reduce deforestation and increase environmental conservation of forested areas.
In Indonesia, IFC’s current held portfolio, including participations, is approximately $850 million. IFC has been involved in several significant corporate restructurings—Santika Hotels, Semen Andalas, South Pacific Viscose, Rimba Partikel, Ades Alfindo, and Argo Pantes—and is actively developing a pipeline of projects for new investments. In the financial sector, IFC is promoting a range of new financial instruments including securitization, and trade enhancement facilities. IFC’s assistance to Bank NISP has helped the bank overcome the effects of the economic crisis. IFC is also providing a financial package to Petrosea, one of the largest engineering and construction companies serving the oil, gas, and mining industries.
In Jakarta, Feb. 15 and16, Mr. Woicke will announce new investments in trade facilities in Indonesia with Standard Chartered Bank and Sumitomo Bank, each for $125 million. The two five-year revolving facilities will help stimulate recovery in Indonesia's international trade flows by providing short-term financing to private sector importers who have little access to trade finance from the local banking sector. The facilities provide additional letter of credit confirmation lines to selected local commercial banks with IFC guaranteeing 40 percent of each transaction.
Mr. Woicke will also address a conference on SME Lending for Commercial Bankers in Jakarta, Feb. 16. SMEs—a major part of IFC’s activities—are regarded by IFC as a means to generate employment and create wealth by spurring investment in the small business sector. IFC invests in SMEs (directly as well as indirectly through financial intermediaries) and provides technical and advisory services to support their development.
Mr. Woicke will travel to Singapore on Feb. 17 for a visit that will include a meeting with the Senior Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore firms and public development agencies have provided financing to a number of IFC projects and its financial institutions have been active participants in IFC’s loan syndication program. IFC opened a syndications office in Singapore about two years ago.
In the Philippines, IFC’s held portfolio, including participations, is $675 million. Investments include Stradcom, a project to computerize and outsource the back-office of the Land Transport Office; Asian Hospital, IFC’s first healthcare project in the country; Planters Development Bank, a thrift bank focused on the SME sector, and the restructuring of United and Paper Company Inc.
In Manila, Feb. 19, Mr. Woicke will announce a new investment to encourage small business growth. The investment is in the Micro Enterprise Bank of the Philippines (MEP), in Davao on the island of Mindanao, one of the country’s poorest regions.
IFC and the World Bank are also working on a
national corporate governance action program in the Philippines that is aimed at improving governance in the corporate, banking, and securities market sectors. An Institute of Corporate Directors has been set up in Manila to train directors in good corporate governance. Several countries in the region will eventually be linked to the Institute through distance learning facilities.
The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private sector investment in developing countries, which will reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.