The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing institution of the European Union, is to lend EUR 240 million (ESP 40 billion) (1) to MENTA Cable i Televisió de Catalunya S.A.U. for construction of its cable telecommunications network in Catalonia. 

The MENTA project will provide the Autonomous Community of Catalonia with state-of-the-art multimedia telecoms services, including high-speed access to the Internet, data transmission, digital television and fixed telephony. The EIB loan will be earmarked for the first phase of an investment programme aimed at providing services in the region's most populated areas, reaching around 60% of the urban population of Catalonia. In 1997, MENTA was awarded the cable telecommunications franchise covering the entire region of Catalonia - which allows it to supply the full range of multimedia services, including telephony.

The project will form a key link in Europe's information superhighway. The creation of powerful telecoms infrastructure will foster economic development and stimulate job creation throughout Catalonia, especially in new technology sectors. 

The EIB was created in 1958 by the founding treaty of the European Economic Community, the Treaty of Rome. It was set up to contribute to the integrated and balanced development of the Member States, as well as to their economic and social cohesion, by providing long-term finance for capital investment fulfilling EU objectives. Networks providing access to multimedia services are classified by the European Commission as trans-European telecoms networks of Community interest.

Owned by the EU Member States, the EIB raises the resources for its lending operations on the capital markets, where its bond issues are consistently rated AAA.

(1) EUR 1 = ESP 166.386, GBP 0.6236