The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, announces a loan for 155 million euro(1) (300 billion lire) to the company Aeroporti di Roma SpA (AdR).

The funds are being made available under AdR's multiannual investment programme (1999-2005) designed to upgrade Rome's Fiumicino - Leonardo da Vinci airport. The project encompasses works to boost the airport's capacity, in particular reconstruction of a runway, reconfiguration of the engine testing area, expansion of existing passenger handling facilities, a fully-fitted new pier, including baggage handling system, and a moving walkway.

Overall project completion is scheduled for December 2002.

This loan to Aeroporti di Roma is one of the largest ever advanced by the EIB to an airport company in Italy. Granted directly to AdR, it is being guaranteed by San Paolo IMI.

The EIB was founded in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome. Its remit is to finance investment contributing to attainment of the European Union's objectives: fostering development in less favoured areas, supporting growth and employment, bolstering the competitiveness of the industrial sector, promoting small and medium-sized enterprises. EIB loans are directed towards economically viable projects in the fields of infrastructure, transport, energy, telecommunications, environmental protection, urban renewal, industry, services, health and education. In 1998, Italy confirmed its position as one of the EIB's major customers, alongside Germany and the United Kingdom, attracting aggregate lending of EUR 4.387 billion. As a general rule, EIB loans do not exceed 50% of a project's investment cost.

(1) EUR 1 = ITL 1 936.25, 0.647500 GBP.