The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, has directed additional funds towards small and medium-scale infrastructural schemes in Italy through a new global loan for EUR 150 million(1) to Crediop SpA. The finance contract has just been signed in Rome by EIB Vice-President Massimo Ponzellini and Crediop's President, Antonio Pedone.

The proceeds of the global loan will be earmarked mainly for local authorities to assist infrastructure schemes with a regional or Community dimension, energy-saving projects and those designed to develop or diversify EU energy supplies, protect the environment and combat pollution. The credit line may also be used to support projects in the health, education and urban renewal sectors.

This operation will enable the EIB to step up its lending in favour of smaller infrastructural schemes managed by public utilities or private-sector operators. An established EIB partner, Crediop - a member of the Dexia Group, European leader in the field of local authority financing - is one of the principal lenders to local authorities and other public bodies in Italy.

A global loan is a line of credit which the local partner institution draws on to deploy long-term finance from the EIB through subloans in favour of small and medium-sized ventures. The EIB has established an extensive network of about 130 financial intermediaries managing credit facilities of this kind throughout the European Union. Italy has the largest network (35 direct intermediaries and 41 indirect, through other establishments).The EIB lent a total of EUR 4.053 billion in Italy in 1999, more than half of this amount (EUR 2.1 billion) going to infrastructure. Industry attracted about 30% of the financing, mostly through global loans for small and medium-sized enterprises.In 1999, Crediop mounted operations totalling ITL 4 716 billion, comprising ITL 3 437 billion in loans and ITL 1 279 billion in subscriptions to local authority bond issues.

(1) EUR 1 = ITL 1 936.27; 0.621700 GBP.