IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is providing a EUR 50 million loan to Alpha Bank Romania to support mortgage lending and help expand access to finance for prospective home owners in Romania.

Alpha Bank Romania, an existing IFC client and a Company of the Alpha Bank Group, one of the leading Groups of the financial sector in Greece, became the first bank to introduce mortgages in Romania in 2001 and is now one of the major mortgage lenders in the country, with a portfolio that exceeds EUR 1 billion. IFC’s financing is expected to help the lender reach out to a greater number of homeowners and further develop the local market.

“The additional funds for mortgage lending will enable us to better support the needs of our Clients in a market where the demand is growing on a yearly basis,” said Periklis Voulgaris, Executive Vice President of Alpha Bank Romania. “This arrangement will further strengthen our competitiveness and market position.”

One of IFC’s priorities in Romania is to strengthen the local financial system by helping banks provide affordable and sustainable opportunities to increase financial inclusion.

Romania’s housing finance system could contribute more to economic growth than it presently does. The country’s 7 percent ratio of outstanding residential mortgage debt to gross domestic product is the lowest among EU countries. The average for the 28-member block is 50 percent.

“IFC’s new loan will further consolidate our partnership with Alpha Bank Romania and will allow the bank to expand its housing portfolio and help its clients to become homeowners,” said Manuel Reyes-Retana, IFC Regional Head for Financial Institutions Group in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. “By boosting Alpha Bank’s capacity to increase mortgage lending we are also contributing to a healthy cycle of domestically driven employment, growth, and savings.”

In 2015, IFC extended a USD 30 million credit trade line to Alpha Bank Romania under the Global Trade Finance Program, which supports trade in emerging markets by providing partial or full guarantees for individual trade transactions backed by IFC’s triple-A rating.

Since its EU accession, Romania’s economic growth has contributed significantly to reducing poverty. However, the expanded financial intermediation is needed to support access to credit for individuals and small businesses that make up the most critical segment of the economy.