Second investment by Darby's Latin America Financial Services Fund II
Santo Domingo, DR and Washington, D.C., May 11, 2009 - Darby Overseas Investments, Ltd. ("Darby"), the private equity arm of Franklin Templeton Investments, announced that its second financial services fund, Darby-ProBanco Fund II, disbursed an initial $12 million of a two tranche investment in Banco León, a leading Dominican Republic bank. The fund's aggregate investment in Banco Leon could reach $25 million.
Headquartered in Santo Domingo, Banco León is the fourth largest privately owned bank and the second largest credit card issuer in Dominican Republic. It is the commercial banking arm of Grupo Financiero León and maintains a strong presence throughout the country with 71 branches and access to over 1,500 ATM machines. Banco León is the only bank with prepaid cards in its product portfolio and has a client base of over 200,000 customers distributed in corporate banking, retail and private banking. Its corporate culture is centered on a vision of respect and trust on the basis of leadership, knowledge and experience; dynamism, protection and openness to the interests and needs of its clients.
Richard Frank, Chief Executive Officer of Darby, said, "Banco León is an excellent addition to our portfolio of financial institutions in Latin America. It represents our first investment in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean, a region where we have been working to expand our operations. We look forward to a long term and mutually beneficial relationship with our new partners in the Dominican Republic."
Alejandro Schwedhelm, Darby Managing Director responsible for ProBanco II added, "We decided to invest in Banco León because of the integrity of the group, and our confidence in its growth. The Bank has taken firm steps to consolidate its position in the market in its five years of operation."
Carlos Guillermo León Nouel, President of Grupo Financiero León and Banco León, said, "We welcome the addition of Darby as an investor and look forward to working with such a prestigious and strong group, their know-how will certainly strengthen our bank and consolidate our position in the market. The inclusion of this new investor responds to our bank's growth strategy and represents the best vote of confidence in our institution and in the Dominican Republic."
Banco León is the second investment for Darby-ProBanco Fund II, adding to Darby's long history of investments in the financial sector. Other past investments include: Grupo Financiero Banorte, one of the major commercial banks in Mexico, Interbank in Peru, Merchant Bankers Asociados (MBA - Lazard) in Argentina, Groupo Financiero Improsa in Costa Rica, Corporación Interfin in Costa Rica and Union de Bancos Cuscatlan, a leading bank in Central America.
Darby Overseas Investments was founded in 1994 by The Honorable Nicholas F. Brady, who served as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury between 1988 and 1993. In 2003 Darby became a fully owned subsidiary of Franklin Resources, Inc. [NYSE:BEN], a global investment management organization operating as Franklin Templeton Investments. Franklin Templeton Institutional, part of Franklin Templeton Investments, provides global and domestic investment management solutions managed by the Franklin Global Advisers, Templeton, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income, Franklin Templeton Real Estate Advisors, Darby and Mutual Series investment management teams. Franklin Templeton Investments, based in San Mateo, California, has over 60 years of investment experience and more than US$391 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2009.