The European Investment Bank is to participate to the tune of EUR 14.6 million(1) in Unternehmensbeteiligungsfonds Mittelstandsfinanzierungs AG (UBF - the Fund), Vienna, as its largest single shareholder. The Fund will mainly make expansion capital available to high-tech Austrian companies in industry and services with clearly defined products and market strategies as well as above-average growth potential.

UBF was founded early this year by Bank Austria. With the circle of shareholders now being widened in a second closing, in the next few years ATS 500 million (EUR 36.5 million) will be available to UBF for investing in high-growth Austrian companies. Alongside the European Investment Bank, which has subscribed 40%, the other shareholders in the Fund are: Bank Austria, Vienna; the London-based venture capital company, Duke Street Capital; Wiener Städtische Versicherung and BA/CA Investment Bank AG, Vienna.

With lending in 1999 totalling some EUR 32 billion, the EIB is the European Union's long-term financing institution. While supporting the Union's less developed regions remains the principal aim of EIB activity, the Bank also finances a range of other major EU objectives. Following the decision of the Amsterdam European Council in June 1997 to define growth and employment in Europe as an especially important goal for the future, the EIB set up its Amsterdam Special Action Programme, which inter alia provides for a total of EUR 1 billion to be made available in the form of venture capital finance by the end of the current year. All in all, 40 participations in 14 Member States for individual amounts ranging from EUR 5 to 51 million per fund were approved under this programme by the end of 1999. In support of this new EIB remit, on 5 June the Bank's Board of Governors decided to allocate a further EUR 1 billion for investment in the venture capital field.

(1) 1 EUR: 1.95583 DEM; 13.7603 ATS; 0.613400 GBP.