The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is advancing an aggregate of EUR 100 million to two Italian banking institutions in the form of global loans dedicated to investments carried out by small and medium-sized enterprises and financed by means of leasing contracts.

EUR 50 million have been advanced to BPB (Banca Popolare di Bergamo-Credito Varesino Scrl) for on-lending to its leasing subsidiaries, BPB Leasing SpA and Esaleasing SpA. The same amount has also been advanced to CREDEM (Credito Emiliano SpA) for on-lending to its leasing subsidiary, Credemleasing SpA.

Both loans will be directed to the financing of leasing contracts of small and medium-sized ventures in industry, tourism and services, energy and environmental protection, international competitiveness projects, and projects related to infrastructure of regional and Community interest. Final beneficiaries will include private and public companies and local authorities.

Leasing is the main source of external financing for SMEs in Italy. It is estimated to account for about 40% of investment financing by companies with less than 100 employees and 21% for those with up to 500 employees.

Both these loan agreements have been concluded with banks that enjoy a strong regional presence and have a long standing strategic commitment to the development of banking relationships with SMEs.

The global loan is a financing instrument under which the EIB makes funds available on a long-term basis to a local intermediary, for on-lending in the form of smaller credits in support of small and medium-scale ventures. The Bank has established an extensive network of some 120 active intermediaries for global loans to SMEs, covering the entire Union. Over the last five years, more than EUR 29 billion have been advanced by the EIB using this facility and have served notably to support in excess of 49 000 SMEs in the EU for a total of EUR 11.6 billion worth of projects.