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Press Release

MIGA, International Financiers Help Banco Nacional de Panamá Launch US$1 Billion COVID-19 Fund

Also available in: Español

WASHINGTON DC, August 27, 2020 – MIGA, a member of the World Bank Group, has issued guarantees covering seven-year loan facilities totaling US$510 million from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (US$360 million) and other international lenders (US$150 million) to Banco Nacional de Panamá (BNP). The MIGA-guaranteed loans will be used to finance a US$1 billion trust fund established by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and BNP to provide emergency liquidity to the Panamanian economy and help the country mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. MIGA’s guarantees provide cover against the risk of Non-Honoring of a Financial Obligation of State-Owned Enterprise (NHFO-SOE).

Consumer demand, trade, tourism, and foreign investment have all declined in Panama as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In late March, the Government of Panama (GoP) requested that MIGA help BNP raise financing as part of the government’s response to the crisis. In addition to the MIGA-guaranteed loans to BNP, the MEF will contribute US$515 million to the trust fund, financed through a Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The trust fund will play two important roles to support the Panamanian economy. First, the trust fund will provide loans with tenors of up to 36 months to onshore commercial banks to address emergency liquidity needs. Recent measures implemented by the GoP to provide debt relief to borrowers affected by the pandemic, such as grace periods on loan repayment through the end of 2020, will impair the liquidity position of onshore commercial banks. The trust fund would provide these banks with needed liquidity, given Panama’s dollarized economy and lack of a central bank.

Second, the trust fund will provide credit to the real economy by serving as a “banco de segundo piso,” meaning the trust fund will lend to other Panamanian banks for on-lending to companies in priority sectors such as agribusiness, health, sanitation, and food importation, as well as small and medium enterprises. These loans are intended to help these companies continue operating during the COVID-19 crisis and retain their employees, as the crisis affects their cashflows and access to financing.

“The trust fund established by MEF and BNP is crucial for helping Panama withstand the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic,” MIGA Executive Vice President Hiroshi Matano said. “We are pleased to be working with international financiers and capital markets to help businesses and small and medium enterprises weather this crisis.”

The US$350 million MIGA-guaranteed financing provided by Goldman Sachs will be repackaged and distributed to investors via a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that has been created specifically for this transaction. This structure will allow GS to crowd in institutional investors and lower the overall cost of the borrowing by BNP.

“Goldman Sachs is proud to have structured a capital markets transaction in partnership with MIGA to facilitate BNP and the Panamanian government’s efforts to support the local economy through the health pandemic,” said Fernando Rivera, Head of FICC Americas Structuring & Solutions, Goldman Sachs.

“The liquidity provided by the MIGA-guaranteed loans will increase resilience within the Panamanian banking sector and companies impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,” BNP General Manager Javier Carrizo said. “The creation of the trust fund shows the strong commitment from both the Government and the international community towards supporting Panama’s businesses, maintaining employment, and helping our country’s economy recover from the crisis.”

BNP is an autonomous state-owned bank, established in 1904. BNP is fully owned by the GoP and operates as a general license bank, offering universal banking services to companies and individuals through the largest branch network of any financial institution in the country. BNP is amongst the three largest banks in Panama by assets, with US$10.2 billion as of March 31, 2020. BNP plays a key role in the Panamanian financial system, acting as the main custodian of GoP funds, handling check-clearing in the domestic banking system, and providing liquidity and credit lines to local banks.

 

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MIGA was created in 1988 as a member of the World Bank Group to promote foreign direct investment in emerging economies by helping mitigate the risks of restrictions on currency conversion and transfer, breach of contract by governments, expropriation, and war & civil disturbance; and offering credit enhancement to private investors and lenders.

Since its creation, MIGA has issued over $59 billion in guarantees across 118 developing countries.

 

The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are supporting public health interventions, working to ensure the flow of critical supplies and equipment, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. We will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over 15 months to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.  This includes $50 billion of new IDA resources through grants and highly concessional loans.

 

Contacts:

In Washington:  Vamsee Krishna Kanchi, (202) 458-9771,  vkanchi@worldbank.org

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Also available in: Español