The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term financing institution is lending GB £ 55 million (ECU 68 million)(1) for a glass industry project in Wales. The loan was announced today by the Bank's President and Chairman of the Board, Sir Brian Unwin, who is in Cardiff for an EIB seminar for the Welsh business community and to visit EIB financed projects.

Sir Brian said: "This project meets the EIB's prime task to support development in the economically less-favoured regions of the European Union. In the last 10 years we have channelled well over GB£ 1 billion in loans for capital investment in Wales, costing over GB£ 3.3 billion. These projects are crucial for long-term job creation and supporting the technological competitiveness of the region".

The GB£ 55 million loan goes to Ocean Technical Glass Ltd towards the construction of a plant to manufacture glass components for TV sets and monitors at Ocean Park, Cardiff. Production from the new facilities will substitute for components being imported and will cater in particular for the needs of nearby TV production facilities. The plant will enhance the local network of high technology enterprises and make the Cardiff area more attractive for similar investments. OTG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nippon Electric Glass Co. Ltd of Japan. Sir Brian visited the plant today.

This loan brings the EIB lending in Wales since January 1996 to some GB£ 255 million, including GB£ 4.7 million for investment projects by nearly 30 small and medium-sized enterprises. Last month the EIB announced a GB£ 40 million loan to Optical Fibres for expansion of optical fibre cable production at Deeside, North Wales.

The EIB lent some GB£ 2 billion in the UK in 1996. The EIB was set up in 1958 under the EC Treaty to support capital investment furthering EU policy objectives, in particular projects promoting regional development; trans-European networks in transport, telecommunications and energy; international competitiveness and integration of European industry, SMEs; environmental protection and improvement; and security of energy supplies. It also provides within certain limits, finance outside the EC within the framework of the EU's co-operation policy with other countries. Owned by the Member States, the EIB raises its funds on capital markets where its bond issues have consistently received an excellent credit rating (AAA). The President of the EIB, Sir Brian Unwin KCB, assumed office in 1993 and is the first British President of the institution.

(1) Conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those of 31/12/96 when 1 ECU = GBP 0.74, IEP 0.75, USD 1.25.