Austria: EUR 100m for small and medium-sized enterprises in Styria
- Release date: 04 December 2013
- Reference: 2013-211-EN
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Austria are to receive further funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to finance their projects. The EIB is to lend EUR 100m to Raiffeisen-Landesbank Steiermark AG (RLB Steiermark), which will onlend the funds to its customers. A loan contract to that effect was signed by both sides today in Graz.
A feature of Austria’s economy is that the vast majority of firms are SMEs. There are about 310 000 of them, accounting for more than 99% of all Austrian firms, and they are responsible for the lion’s share of sales and value added. At the same time they employ around 60% of the workforce and play a crucial part in creating and safeguarding jobs. Young people in particular are most likely to start their working life in SMEs, either via training or by obtaining their first job in such firms.
Loans to SMEs have long been a focus of the EIB’s financing activities. Together with the European Investment Fund (EIF), which is also part of the EIB Group, it will be providing a total of EUR 20bn for SMEs (of which EUR 17bn in the form of loans) in the current year alone. This record volume has already been exceeded by the amount of loans approved, which are expected to total more than EUR 21bn by the end of the year. Financing SMEs has thus become the Bank’s single biggest priority.
Apart from SMEs, the target group also increasingly includes midcap companies, with up to 3 000 employees. These firms are often too big for banks’ traditional SME programmes but too small for refinancing on the international capital markets. Through its financing operations the EIB provides targeted support for this segment of the market, which is often highly innovative. For the borrowers the long maturities in particular and the comparatively favourable terms are attractive. The funds are onlent via intermediary banks. In Austria very good cooperation has long since been established with various banks, including RLB Steiermark. This enables the EIB to broaden the geographical coverage of the products it provides and thus to reach out to even more SMEs.
At the signing ceremony EIB Vice-President Wilhelm Molterer, whose responsibilities include lending in Austria, remarked: “Small and medium-sized enterprises have the greatest impact in terms of growth and employment. This applies just as much in Austria as it does throughout the rest of Europe. This year the EIB is therefore endeavouring to achieve a record volume of lending to SMEs. “In future, thanks to the successful cooperation with Raiffeisen-Landesbank Steiermark, we will be able to provide even more Austrian firms with easier access to finance.”
“As a regional bank we see it as our job to help boost economic output and thus to create the necessary conditions for doing so in Styria. We are pleased with the partnership with the European Investment Bank, which will provide us with greater scope to promote regional infrastructure,” said Martin Schaller, Chairman of Raiffeisen-Landesbank Steiermark’s Managing Board, who is also convinced of the value of the strategic cooperation between the two institutions.
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