The European Investment Bank (EIB) is to support small and medium-scale enterprises as well as small and medium-sized infrastructure, energy and environment projects in Italy with a EUR 80 million (1) facility arranged and to be provided through Efibanca.

The new facility will sustain projects contributing to increase the productivity and competitiveness of small- and medium-sized companies. The finance will be lent by Efibanca for capital investment by these companies in the industry, service and tourism sectors. 

Efibancawas acquired by Banca Popolare di Lodi (Bipielle) at the end of 1999 and is now the LMT lending arm and merchant bank of the Bipielle Group. In this context, Efibanca will act as long and medium-term lending bank for the Bipielle group's SME clients located throughout Italy, including Objective 1 areas like Sicily.

The EIB is owned by the Member States of the European Union. It was set up in 1958 to finance capital investment furthering EU policy objectives, and, though a not for profit organisation, it is self-financing, raising its funds by borrowing on capital markets.

The EIB's key policy objectives are financing: regional development; the trans-European networks in transport, telecom and energy; knowledge and R&D intensive industries; improved international competitiveness of industry, small and medium sized enterprises, environmental protection, secure energy supplies and health and education. It also provides finance outside the EU within certain limits as part of the EU's external relations policy. In 2000, the EIB lent some EUR 36 billion, of which EUR 5.6 billion in Italy.

(1) 1 EUR: 0.638700 GBP, 1936,27 ITL