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Morocco's economy is currently undergoing substantial change, including the lowering of tariff barriers over a 10-year period. This transition period will enable Moroccan companies to prepare for the opening-up of the economy, especially for free trade with the European Community, by putting in place the structures required to export products or get ready for more intense competition.

CAISSE DE DEPOT ET DE GESTION Capital: A New US$30-Million Fund for Morocco

(CDG) and other major Moroccan institutions to create a US$30 million fund for Morocco

This venture capital fund, known as Acces Capital Atlantique SA (ACASA), will invest in Moroccan manufacturing- sector SMEs involved mainly in telecommunications, information technologies, agri-business, fishing and tourism.

"This partnership between CDP Capital and CDG is the extension of a business relationship built over several years, especially through CDP Advisory Services," pointed out Jean-Claude Scraire, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDP) and Chairman of CDP Capital, during a press conference in Casablanca, Morocco.

Since 1998, CDP Advisory Services has been working closely with CDG on information technologies, portfolio management and the transfer of expertise to CDG managers. These collaborative efforts have strengthened the connections between the two institutions.

"With this new fund, CDP Capital's private equity group is making its expertise and know-how available to Moroccan SMEs, and CDG is contributing its knowledge of the local market. These combined strengths will no doubt ensure ACASA's uccess," Mr Scraire added.

Under the direction of Pierre-Andre Pomerleau, who was previously working for CDP Acces Capital, ACASA will promote the development of rapidly growing SMEs on the domestic and international markets. ACASA will also offer Moroccan SMEs a business solution similar to Acces Releve, a product developed by CDP Acces Capital so that entrepreneurs who want to ensure their firms' sustainability can transfer ownership to family members or company executives over the medium term.

In addition to CDP Capital and CDG, which are each investing US$10 million, four other investors are jointly providing US$10 million. They are Wafa Assurance, AXA Assurance, Compagnie nationale et intercontinentale d'assurance (CNIA) and Mutuelle A Marocaine D A (MAMDA).

The Caisse de depot et de gestion is Morocco's leading institutional investor. With more than 40 years of experience in key sectors of the economy - financial markets, provident funds, insurance, real estate and tourism - Groupe CDG plays a vital role in Morocco's economic and social development, notably through its specialized subsidiaries.

CDP Capital is the fund manager for the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDP) and manages over $125 billion in assets. CDP Capital, Canada's leading fund manager, offers to CDP and to other clients in Canada and around the world a complete range of fund management services.

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