Responding to COVID-19 Impact in Seven African Economies, FirstRand Receives US$235m Guarantee from MIGA to Unlock Liquidity
WASHINGTON DC, August 10, 2020 – MIGA, a member of the World Bank Group, has issued guarantees of up to US$235 million to a wholly-owned subsidiary of South Africa’s FirstRand Group, for a period of up to 15 years, covering the subsidiaries’ mandatory reserves held as per regulatory requirements in Botswana, Eswatini, Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zambia.
The guarantees will help unlock funding and liquidity, and support the economies of the host countries, which are being severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the commodities markets.
Nearly 60 percent of the support provided by the MIGA guarantees will be directed to low-income IDA countries, and twelve percent will go to Mozambique, a country recently affected by conflict.
The global outlook remains weak due to the COVID-19 crisis. Economic growth is projected to contract in all of the host countries, with five of the seven (excluding Ghana and Mozambique) entering negative growth in 2020. Banks are facing increased pressure to optimize capital allocation and reduce risk exposures.
“Our support for a key regional bank that is helping weather the fallout from the global pandemic across seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is timely and essential,” said MIGA Executive Vice President Hiroshi Matano. “MIGA guarantees will help build resilience within the countries through the continued supply of credit. For the longer term, our support will help lay the foundations for credit growth and employment.”
MIGA’s capital optimization product reduces the risk-weighting of the subsidiaries’ mandatory minimum reserves on FirstRand’s balance sheet. FirstRand will use the freed-up capital to sustain the lending activities of its subsidiaries.
“MIGA’s capital optimization product is particularly important now, given the stresses in many of the economies in which we operate on the African continent. In particular, it enables the availability of capital to support these economies through continued lending,” said Andries du Toit, FirstRand Group Treasurer.
MIGA’s support also entails providing assistance to the subsidiaries through the implementation of FirstRand’s updated Environmental and Social Management Systems (ESMS) and other policies related to MIGA’s Performance Standards. This will improve the subsidiaries’ current environmental and social risk management practices.
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.
In Washington: Vamsee Krishna Kanchi, (202) 458-9771, firstname.lastname@example.org
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