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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will take a minority equity stake in the holding company of one of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) leading private credit guarantee companies, Shenzhen Credit Orienwise Co.

Credit Orienwise specialises in guaranteeing loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It has successfully provided a credit assessment service and risk mitigation mechanism previously lacking in the PRC’s financial system.

ADB’s investment will be used mainly to improve Credit Orienwise’s internal information technology systems, increase its capital for growth, and help it expand from its base in Shenzhen to other cities in the PRC.

“SMEs are key drivers of jobs, economic growth, and development. However, more than 80% of the SMEs in the PRC have difficulty in accessing financial services and securing financing, while commercial banks lack experience and incentives for assessing SME credit risk,” says William Willms, an ADB principal investment officer.

“ADB’s investment will support further SME growth by increasing access to financing, thereby enhancing sustainable private sector employment and contributing to ADB’s overarching goal of poverty reduction.”

In addition, an ongoing technical assistance grant from ADB is helping to improve access to finance for SMEs in the PRC by promoting development of SME credit guarantee companies through an effective policy, regulatory, and operational framework.

Credit Orienwise is the PRC’s largest privately-owned credit guarantee company. Employing 164 people, in 2003, Credit Orienwise had revenues of Rmb106mn (US$12.8mn) and, at year-end, guarantees outstanding of more than Rmb1.87bn (US$226mn). Credit Orienwise is advised by ABN Amro on this transaction and other strategic initiatives.

“ADB will help to catalyse additional investment into Credit Orienwise,” adds Willms. “As in all our investments, ADB will promote best commercial practices and good corporate governance.”