Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will soon benefit from a European Investment Bank (EIB) EUR 50 million (IEP 39.4 million) (1) long-term loan to ICC Bank plc. ICC Bank will on-lend the EIB funds to SMEs in a wide range of industries, including the services, high tech and industrial economic sectors. 

The EIB, the European Union's financing institution, has a longstanding co-operation with ICC Bank in providing medium- to long-term loan finance and venture capital for Irish businesses. The latest loan reinforces the EIB's close relationship with ICC Bank. This is the first time the EIB has provided funds to ICC Bank without a State guarantee. 

Commenting on the latest loan, EIB Group Vice President Michael Tutty said: "This loan strengthens the EIB's longstanding and successful working relationship with ICC Bank. This latest finance is targeted at investment to enhance productivity and competitiveness of SMEs and will encourage further economic growth. It also strengthens the network of support the EIB is providing through the Irish banking sector for small-scale projects. Supporting the activities of SMEs is a European Union priority as they are vital for job creation. SMEs in Ireland have also played a key role in the modernisation and development of the economy."

ICC Bank Chief Executive Michael Quinn said: "The fact that the EIB has provided the loan to us without a State guarantee underlines EIB's confidence in ICC as a credible, stable financial institution. ICC Bank is committed to nurturing the continued development of the Irish economy by financing Irish business. Our market specialisation in financing SMEs will ensure that a large number of businesses will benefit from this loan. We commend the EIB for its decision to continue its investment in Ireland."

Last year, the EIB Group also invested IEP20 million as venture capital in ICC Private Equity Fund Limited Partnership, a division of ICC Bank plc, to support growth-oriented, innovative small businesses. Within the EIB Group, all venture capital financing is to be managed by EIB's specialist venture capital affiliate, the European Investment Fund (EIF).

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).

The EIB's venture capital activities are managed by the European Investment Fund (EIF) as the specialist risk capital arm of the EIB Group. The EIF is a public-private partnership, established by the EIB, the European Commission and private and public financial institutions from EU Member States. The EIF's activities are focused on facilitating the access to investment finance for SMEs through investments in venture capital funds, particularly those promoting innovative businesses and through portfolio guarantees for financial intermediaries supporting SME activities.

ICC Bank is Ireland's leading business bank providing a wide range of financial services to the small and middle market business sectors.

(1) EUR 1 = 0.787546 IEP; 0.6128 GBP