The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing Artesia Banking Corporation with its first global loan (1), for EUR 50 million (BEF 2 billion)(2), for financing small and medium-scale ventures in the fields of health (especially the hospital sector) and education (all types and levels).

Established in the Benelux, France and several other European countries as well as the United States, the Artesia Banking Corporation Group comprises mainly Artesia Bank, the AP insurance arm and BACOB Bank. As the fifth leading financial institution in Belgium in terms of total assets, the Group enjoys, via BACOB Bank, a particularly strong footing in both the hospital and education sectors in that country. The EIB global loan will enable Artesia BC to offer funds on attractive terms for ventures in these labour-intensive areas, contributing, as far as teaching and training are concerned, towards the availability of a skilled workforce tailored to employment market demand. With regard to applications for financing under this operation, contacts should be established through the Welfare and Public Sector Department of BACOB Bank, a subsidiary of Artesia Banking Corporation.

The health and education sectors became eligible for EIB financing in the wake of the Amsterdam European Council's Resolution on Growth and Employment (1997) and repeated references thereto at subsequent Council meetings, notably that held in Cologne in June 1999. The EIB has so far devoted some EUR 4.6 billion to these sectors, comprising 2 billion for health projects and 2.6 billion for education. In Belgium, a global loan to another major Belgian Bank for EUR 50 million has been deployed in full in support of around 650 ventures, of which almost 60% in the health sector (e.g. for acquiring medical equipment for hospitals and laboratories) and about 40% in the field of education (mainly for financing school buildings).

(1) EIB global loans are akin to lines of credit, of which deployment by partner banks is subject to compliance with criteria governing the type of investment concerned and the final beneficiaries : small and medium-sized enterprises or local authorities.

(2) EUR 1 = BEF 40.3399, 0.632300 GBP.