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Banco de Comercio Exterior de Colombia S.A. (BANCOLDEX)

takeover, rose to 39% in 2006 from a low of 28.2% in 2003, before declining to 23% in 2008 due to rapid asset growth.

The shift in the bank's lending profile in recent years has been notable. Larger firms received only 31% of the bank's total disbursements in 2008, down from 74% in 2002. The share of disbursements going to microcredits and SMEs rose to 56% in 2008 from only 8% in 2002. Lending for modernization of productive capacity has grown in recent years (it was up 64% in 2008) and now accounts for well above half of total lending. The average term of loans has also increased over the years, reflecting the longer-term nature of assets being funded. Medium- and long-term loans accounted for 61% of total disbursements in 2008, up from 42% in 2002.

The geographical spread of the bank's loans has also increased rapidly in recent years. The bank made disbursements to borrowers in 690 municipalities in the country in 2008, up from only 83 in 2002. Recently, demand for working capital loans has held up better than demand for long-term loans, reflecting the poor economy in 2009. Overall credit demand has been subdued, due to the economic downturn.

Support And Ownership

BANCOLDEX was founded in 1992, when the government separated Proexpo's export finance activities from its export promotion activities (now held in trust by Fiducoldex, BANCOLDEX's subsidiary). Proexpo was left in charge of export promotion activities, while BANCOLDEX was formed to manage export financing. The board of directors, which is appointed by the government and chaired by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, oversees all bank activities and relies on management to implement the government's development plan.

BANCOLDEX is regulated by Colombia's banking superintendency and is subject to the same prudent regulations as private financial institutions, including capital adequacy and loan-loss provisioning. The bank has recently come under the Superintendency's guidelines for liquidity, as well. As a public-sector institution, the bank's activities are also monitored by Consejo Nacional de Política Económica y Social (the government's interministerial economic policymaking body), the controller general, the Ministry of Finance, and the central bank.

The bank is incorporated as a mixed-capital entity under Colombian law, allowing for both public- and private-sector equity ownership. Nevertheless, the bank is almost entirely owned by the Colombian government; only 0.3% is held privately. Colombia's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism owns 91.87% of the bank's shares, and the Ministry of Finance holds 7.85%. The remaining 0.28% is held by investment funds, employee funds, and other individuals.

In late 1998, the government contemplated selling an 11% stake in BANCOLDEX to the public, but a lack of interest led to a decision to maintain control and postpone any sale. Despite almost full government ownership, BANCOLDEX's status as a mixed-capital entity places it under the same legal regime as private institutions, thereby granting it greater operational flexibility than other state-owned enterprises. The bank has recently gained both domestic and external certifications (ISO 9001:2000) in an effort to improve the quality of its processes and services.



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