The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, announces a EUR 50 million loan (1) to Crédit d'Équipement des PME (CEPME), a subsidiary of Banque du Développement des PME (BDPME), designed to promote financing of the industrial, commercial and service sectors. The contract has been signed by Mrs. Ariane Obolensky, President of the Executive Board of BDPME, and Mr. Francis Mayer, Vice-President of the EIB. 

The long-term resources provided by the EIB will enable the BDPME to expand its role in support of the development of SMEs. This operation is particularly important inasmuch as, by building on the partnership forged by the BDPME with some 400 banking institutions in France, it will further mobilise banking sector assistance for this category of business, facilitating and underpinning their productive investment.

The BDPME is a novel institution in the French financial world. Its purpose is to support SMEs in funding their development projects. This remit of public interest is always carried out in partnership with banking networks, finance companies and equity finance institutions, with the BDPME acting either as guarantor or co-financier. The BDPME's activity in favour of small and medium-sized businesses therefore represents an extension of the EIB's action at European level.

This loan forms part of the EIB's endeavours to improve the financial environment for SMEs in Europe, an objective to which, in 2000, it devoted more than EUR 5.7 billion in long-term loans and EUR 450 million in venture capital. Acting in close partnership with Europe's financial and banking community, the EIB Group - consisting of the EIB and the European Investment Fund (EIF), its specialist subsidiary for the provision of venture capital and guarantees in support of SMEs - is able to offer European small businesses the full range of financing instruments required to ensure their development and adaptation to new technologies. In France, in particular, this action enabled the EIB Group to participate in financing 13 500 ventures undertaken by SMEs last year, as well as to invest in some 10 venture capital funds, including the "Venture Capital Promotion Fund 2000" set up jointly by the State, the CDC and the EIB Group.

(1) 1 EUR = 6,55957 FRF