The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is announcing a EUR 104 million loan agreement with Università degli Studi di Torino, one of Italy's largest Universities.

The financing is being channelled through the San Paolo IMI banking group. The contract was signed today by the EIB's Vice President Massimo Ponzellini and San Paolo IMI's chief executive officer and director general Rainer Stefano Masera.

The University's teaching, scientific and administrative facilities are currently inadequate and dispersed in more than sixty buildings spread around the city. Under the project, falling within the Bank's priorities under the Amsterdam Special Action Programme, the number of present sites will be reduced to ten more homogenous poles, which will rehabilitate and exploit abandoned industrial areas and ancient historical buildings in Turin, and create new specialised campuses in the suburban areas of Grugliasco and Orbassano.

As a result, the University's infrastructures will be rationalised, expanded and modernised, and additional space will be provided for classrooms, information technology, libraries and laboratories. The improved facilities will enhance the environment for learning, so contributing to improved levels of attendance and course completion, and increase the level of interchange between University's research activity and small and medium enterprises located in the area.

The EIB financing corresponds to 30% of the project cost, and will complement funding provided by the Italian State, the Piedmont Region and bank foundations.

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 1999, the EIB lent a total of EUR 31.8 billion (29.5 in 1998) and borrowed EUR 28.3 billion (30 in 1998) on the capital markets. Italy confirmed its position as one of the EIB's major customers, alongside Germany and the United Kingdom (loans for EUR 4,053 billion).The Università di Torino is organised into 12 faculties offering 42 laurea degrees and 44 diploma degrees to more than 63,000 students.

(1) EUR 1 = ITL 1 936.27; GBP 0.6217.