The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, has advanced a loan for ITL 200 billion (1) to Società Esercizi Aereoportuali Milano e Malpensa, SEA S.p.A. The finance contract was signed today at Malpensa Airport by EIB Vice-President Massimo Ponzellini and the Managing Director of SEA S.p.A., Dr Alfredo Gianetti.

On the occasion of the signature ceremony, Vice-President Ponzellini emphasised the priority the EIB attaches to Europe's major infrastructure networks, to which Malpensa Airport certainly belongs. He also pointed out that the Bank has been called upon by the Amsterdam European Summit to step up its support for completion of the priority trans-European networks.

The loan concluded today, being channelled partly via the Istituto Bancario San Paolo (50 billion) and Cassa di Risparmio delle Province Lombarde Cariplo (also 50 billion), follows on from an initial instalment of ITL 200 billion for which a contract was signed in 1994. Moreover, in connection with financing for Malpensa Airport, the EIB has also made funds available to Società Autostrade S.p.A. towards the Milan-Laghi section of motorway (40 billion).

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long and medium-term financing institution, was set up in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome. The EIB raises funds on the international capital markets and finances projects in both the public and private sectors in support of the European Union's priority objectives, with a view to European integration. In 1996, the EIB provided ECU 23.2 billion in all for project financing, of which ECU 4.121 billion was advanced in Italy.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 September 1997, when ECU 1 = GBP 0.69, IEP 0.76, USD 1.113, ITL 1921,48.