An international syndicate composed of eleven major European, American and Japanese banks (1) is guaranteeing an ECU 70 million European Investment Bank (EIB) loan to the Slovak power utility SLOVENSKE ELEKTRARNE (SE). The EIB loan is for the refurbishment of a power plant at Vojany in Eastern Slovakia. Investments comprise new boilers, steam turbines and transformers, a new cooling system, as well as instrumentation and environmental monitoring equipment.

Commenting on the operation, EIB Vice-President Wolfgang Roth said: 'This is another example of EIB lending in Slovakia with the support of commercial banks instead of the Government. Recently the European Investment Fund (EIF) provided a guarantee on a loan to the Slovak gas utility SPP. These developments follow similar arrangements recently applied to an EIB loan to the Czech electricity company CEZ and to our financing of small and medium-sized enterprises and smaller-scale infrastructures in Hungary and Poland. The EIB intends to further develop these schemes as the new Central European market economies grow and as their financial and banking systems consolidate.''

The EIB finances projects in Central and Eastern Europe under authorisations by its Board of Governors, i.e. the fifteen EU Finance Ministers representing the Bank's shareholders. Between 1990 and the end of 1996, total lending in the region reached ECU 4.8 billion: Poland (1 406 million), the Czech Republic (992 million), Hungary (872 million), Romania (475 million), Slovakia (353 million), Bulgaria (286 million), Slovenia (150 million), Lithuania (101 million), Estonia (68 million), Albania (46 million), and Latvia (31 million). Under a new mandate for the 3 year period 1997 to 1999, the EIB is to provide another ECU 3.5 billion in these countries. In addition to this, the Bank will also, at the request of the Council of Ministers, create a substantial pre-accession lending facility to speed up development in the applicant countries.

(1) The Sumitomo Bank, Ltd., Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association, Bayerische Landesbank Girozentrale, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Ltd., Crédit Suisse First Boston, Dresdner Bank AG, The Fuji Bank, Ltd., ING Bank N.V., Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York, National Westminster Bank Plc., Bank Austria Aktiengesellschaft.

(2) On 31/12/1996: 1 ECU = 39.9517 SKK, 0.737273 GBP,1.25299 USD.