First National Bank of New England, a unit of First International Bancorp, has appointed a Ghana-based agent to help develop business in Africa.

The bank offers working capital, medium-term financing, mortgage financing, permanent working capital, and equipment loans to small and midsize companies, typically with sales of less than $50 million. It recently completed five export-related transactions with African companies and hopes to do more, said James G. Fortsch, executive vice president.

"There are significant opportunities with good, well-capitalized companies in Africa," Mr. Fortsch said.

Under the agreement, Network Financial Services, based in Accra, Ghana, has become exclusive agent for First National financing to companies in the West African nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Senegal that import from or export to the United States.

First National plans to offer term loans to industrial companies seeking to buy U.S.-made machinery and equipment; credit lines to companies seeking to buy raw materials, spare parts, components, and other inventory in the United States; and financing for West African product exports.

The arrangement is the latest overseas venture by the $252 million-asset bank. It has representatives in 12 countries, including Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey. And it recently made an agent agreement to offer financing to small, family-owned companies in South Korea.

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