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IMF grants Brazil $30 billion lifeline

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -- The International Monetary Fund, seeking to contain a deepening economic crisis in South America, said Wednesday it would provide $30 billion in loans to Brazil.

It is one of the biggest bailout packages in the history of the global lending organization.

The 15-month agreement, announced by IMF Managing Director Horst Koehler, followed intense talks between the IMF and Brazil and came as Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was wrapping up a fact-finding mission to the region.

Brazil has been working to avert an economic crisis sparked by uncertainties ahead of elections in October.

Some investors and lenders were worried that the next administration might decide to default on the country's $250 billion in debt.

"The new agreement would commit $30 billion of additional financing by the IMF, 80 percent of which would be disbursed during 2003,'' Koehler said in a statement.

The new loans are in addition to an existing $15 billion credit line the lending institution has extended to Brazil, which saw its currency -- the real -- sink to record lows last week on investor worries about its ability to meet its debt payments




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