IFC to Help Bank of Palestine Strengthen Risk Management Systems

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Ramallah, West Bank and Gaza, January 11, 2010 - IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today said it will advise Bank of Palestine on how to better manage risks and increase financing for small and medium enterprises, an initiative that will help strengthen the banking system and increase economic growth in West Bank and Gaza.

The initiative, IFC's first advisory services project with a bank in West Bank and Gaza in risk management, will help Bank of Palestine develop its risk management structure, systems, procedures, and processes, allowing it to attract investment and to provide financial services to smaller businesses and a wider segment of the population.

IFC expects the partnership with Bank of Palestine, one of the largest banks in the West Bank and Gaza in terms of outstanding loan portfolio, to lead to broad-based improvements in the overall banking sector in West Bank and Gaza.

Mr. Hashim Shawwa, General Manager of Bank of Palestine, said: "Bank of Palestine is adamant about implementing the best international risk and corporate governance practices. We are happy to launch this project with IFC to achieve this goal, which will help give Bank of Palestine a unique position locally and regionally."

Lakshmi Shyam-Sunder, IFC Director of Corporate Risk Management, said, "IFC strives to build the capacity of banks in West Bank and Gaza so that they can play a greater role in economic development. Strengthening risk management practices is an important component of IFC's bank capacity building efforts."

The new risk management project with Bank of Palestine builds upon IFC's previous support for the bank, including a five percent equity investment and $3 million in trade finance through IFC's Global Trade Finance Program. IFC also helped the bank develop the first student lending program in West Bank and Gaza.

The partnership with Bank of Palestine is part of IFC's larger efforts to help develop the Palestinian banking sector by working with a number of financial institutions, including the Palestine Monitory Authority.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $14.5 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing countries during the financial crisis. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About Bank of Palestine

Bank of Palestine is the first and the largest national bank in West Bank and Gaza. It was founded in 1960 and began operations on February 21, 1961 by giving small loans to projects and businesses and giving limited short-term personal loans. Bank of Palestine has a banking network of 38 branches and sub-branches from Jenin in the north to Rafah in the south. Bank of Palestine offers banking services for both individuals, and companies and has a distinguished management team and a highly qualified professional staff of 850 employees.


In Jerusalem:
Name: Youssef Habesch
Phone: +972 2 236 6547
E-mail: yhabesch@ifc.org

In Cairo:
Name: Riham Mustafa
Phone: +20 2 461 9150
E-mail: rmustafa@ifc.org