The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term financing institution has concluded a IEP 12 million (EUR 15 million) arrangement with ACT, a leading Irish venture capital company to support equity capital for companies mostly in Ireland. The EIB is financing a partnership subscription in the ACT 99 Venture Capital Fund, which is focusing on growth-oriented, innovative small and medium-sized businesses mainly in Ireland. Investments in other EU countries may also be supported, particularly in Northern Ireland.

Total investment by the Fund is expected to reach IEP 75 million (EUR 95 million). This is the first EIB financing for venture capital operations in Ireland and the EIB is sharing risk and return in the fund on the same basis as other investors.

The EIB provides risk capital for SME venture capital industry under a special programme, set up following the European Council's resolution on growth and employment in Amsterdam in June 1997 calling for investment to help job creation. The EIB's programme includes a special window to provide risk capital to improve the capitalisation of SMEs, helping to create employment opportunities and stimulate the economy.

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term lending institution, finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular: regional development; trans-European networks in transport, telecoms and energy; industrial competitiveness and integration; SMEs; environmental protection; and energy security. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the EU's co-operation external policy. Owned by the Member States, the EIB raises its funds on capital markets (AAA issuer).The EIB's Amsterdam Special Action programme (ASAP) was set up following the European Council's request that the EIB should to step up lending for investment to help job-creation. The ASAP includes a special window to provide risk capital for high-growth SMEs; new lending for education, health and urban renewal; and expansion of financing for trans-European networks and other major infrastructure schemes. The EIB may draw up to ECU 1 billion from its reserves over the next three years to cover risk capital financing under the SME Window.

1 EUR = 0.705455 GBP, 0.787564 IEP.