The European Investment Bank (EIB) is investing SEK 100 million (ECU 11 million) in Swedish Litorina Capital aimed at financing small and medium-sized innovative enterprises.

Litorina with a total capitalisation of approx. SEK 500 million, has been established by Swedbank, Sweden's second largest bank in terms of assets, and a group of Swedish institutional investors together with the EIB. The EIB fully shares the risks and rewards with the other partners in Litorina's investments.

Litorina's objective is to make equity investments primarily in innovative SMEs with turnovers in the range of SEK 25-500 million (ECU 3-55 million) in order to facilitate their expansion.

"This initiative by a major Swedish bank to establish a dedicated private equity company to promote the growth of SMEs is most welcome. Through the cooperation with the extensive branch network of Swedbank, Litorina will have a wide regional reach," says Claes de Neergaard, Vice President of the EIB.

The investment is the first in Sweden within the EIB's "SME Window" under the Amsterdam Special Action Programme aimed at stimulating employment and growth. The "SME Window" is intended to facilitate the access to equity and quasi-equity for innovative SMEs. Its activities will be deployed in close cooperation with the banking sector and EIB partner financial institutions and will involve venture capital instruments based on customised, risk-sharing operations.

Within the "SME Window", the Bank has so far extended financing totalling ECU 230 million for risk-sharing operations in several European Union countries.

The financing to Litorina Capital included, EIB lending in Sweden amounts to some ECU 2.4 billion for investments in infrastructure and industry.

The European Investment Bank (EIB), the financial institution of the EU, contributes by means of long-term loans towards the integration and balanced development of its member countries and countries outside the Union.