The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, has advanced a global loan of ITL 100 billion to Banca Carige S.p.A. towards financing ventures promoted by small and medium-sized enterprises.

The finance contract was signed today, at Banca Carige's head office in Genoa, by EIB Vice-President, Massimo Ponzellini, and the General Manager of Carige, Giovanni Berneschi.

On the occasion of the signature ceremony, Mr Ponzellini spoke of "the EIB's renewed role in supporting small and medium-sized firms, especially in the light of the new mandates handed down to the Bank by the Amsterdam Summit".

Funds from the global loan will be directed principally towards small and medium-scale ventures, geared in particular to energy saving and rational use of energy, improvement of the environment and enhanced competitiveness at international level of the firms benefiting.

The global loan is a financing instrument under which the EIB makes funds available on a long-term basis to a local intermediary, for onlending in the form of smaller sub-loans in support of a number of small and medium-scale ventures. In 1996, total EIB lending ran to some ECU 23.2 billion (1), of which over ECU 4 billion (about ITL 8 000 billion) in Italy alone. The EIB's capital is owned in full by the 15 Member States of the European Union.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 June 1997, when ECU 1 = ITL 1 923.35, GBP 0.68, IEP 0.75, USD 1.13.