The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term financing institution, is lending £50 million (EUR 80 million)(1) to Close Brothers Limited to support investment by small and medium-sized ventures throughout the European Union.

The finance, in the form of an EIB global loan (basically a line of credit), will be made available to small-scale ventures directly through Close Brothers Limited or through one of its banking or leasing financing subsidiaries. Close Brothers is the principal subsidiary of a diversified UK investment banking group Close Brothers Group plc, concentrating on financing small and medium-sized companies. The finance will be applied in a range of industrial sectors including printing, plant, machine tools and commercial vehicles.

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term lending institution, finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular: regional development; trans-European networks in transport, telecoms and energy; industrial competitiveness and integration; SMEs; environmental protection; and energy security. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the EU's co-operation external policy. Owned by the Member States, the EIB raises its funds on capital markets (AAA issuer). In 1999, the EIB lent some EUR 30 billion, of which £2.2 billion in the UK.

(1) EUR 1 = 0.621700 GBP.