The European Investment Bank (EIB) announces loan finance totalling DEM 150  million made available to Landesbank Saar Girozentrale (SaarLB), Saarbrücken. The funds are earmarked as to DEM 50 million in support of an industrial estate in Saarlouis, directly adjoining the local Ford Europe vehicle assembly plant, and DEM 100 million for capital investment by smaller businesses (SMEs) eligible for sub-loans under a credit line managed by Landesbank Saar Girozentrale. The latter facility will, in the main, be targeted at ventures mounted by firms setting up on the estate as well as those building on or expanding production facilities and service-sector activities in other areas of the Saarland, neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate and the bordering French region of Lorraine.

The industrial estate development scheme is intended to lend added momentum to economic growth in Saarland and nearby areas, while more particularly securing and enhancing the standing of Saarlouis as a focal point for the motor vehicle construction industry. Firms establishing automotive component manufacturing shops on or close to the estate will find themselves better placed to supply the Ford works on a just-in-sequence basis, so saving the latter storage costs and themselves otherwise burdensome transport overheads.

Sub-loans allocated under the credit line tailored to the needs of small and medium-scale ventures will be authorised and managed by Landesbank Saar Girozentrale at its own risk. The accompanying conditions will be particularly interesting to local promoters inasmuch as this partnership between the European Investment Bank and Landesbank Saar Girozentrale will enable SaarLB to offer SMEs the benefit of the keen financing terms obtained by the EIB as one of the world's largest issuers on the capital markets. The same advantages can also be extended to the Saarland's savings banks' clientele.

On the occasion of today's loan signing ceremony with Landesbank Saar Girozentrale, attended by Saarland's future minister-president Reinhard Klimmt, EIB Vice-President Wolfgang Roth declared that this financing package heralded fruitful co-operation with SaarLB, adding:"Landesbank Saar Girozentrale can now be counted among the European Investment Bank's key global loan partners. The global loan facility represents a tried-and-tested blend of the EIB's financing resources and the expertise of its partner banks in touch with the local market and customer base. It is a credit instrument particularly well suited to furthering regional development through its support for SME capital investment underpinned by intermediary institutions of the calibre of SaarLB".

The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 September 1998, when ECU 1 =  DEM 1.96, GBP 0.79 and USD 1.17.