With the signing of new loans totalling EUR 5.6 billion, a 39% increase over the previous year, the European Investment Bank's business in Italy grew briskly in 2000. Moreover, the total volume of loans approved by the Bank's Board of Directors during the year topped EUR 7 billion (1). These results were presented by EIB President Philippe Maystadt and Vice-President Massimo Ponzellini at a press conference held at the Treasury in Rome in the presence of Treasury Minister and EIB Governor for Italy, Professor Vincenzo Visco.

This increased lending benefited every sector, especially industry (EUR 2 131 million, up 73%), energy and telecoms (EUR 1 270 million, up 88%) and infrastructure (EUR 2 239 million, up 5%). In particular, the EIB's commitment to supporting small and medium-sized Italian companies in cooperation with the country's banking sector was highlighted by a 56% - or EUR 1.8 billion - rise in the volume of global loans and venture capital operations. Around two thirds of aggregate financing provided was directed towards projects located in the Union's assisted areas.

During his visit to the country, President Maystadt launched EIB activity in Italy for 2001 by signing two new loans: to ENEL (EUR 500 million for modernising the power grid in central and southern Italy) and to Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (a EUR 350 million global loan in support of small and medium-sized enterprises).

Also in 2000, the EIB's Office for Lending Operations in Italy, headed by Thomas Hackett, extended its responsibilities to include financing operations in Greece, Malta and Cyprus. 

Sectoral breakdown

  • Industry: loans were advanced to Fiat Motori (FMA and Teksid), Lidl Italia, Marangoni, Riva steelworks and Sol Gas Industriali.
  • Global loans: 16 global loans for a total of EUR 1 627 billion were signed, broadening the network of intermediary credit institutions in order to reach a greater number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and making available increased resources for leasing finance in support of investment. In the venture capital sector, five operations totalling EUR 142.7 million were signed.
  • Energy and telecoms: finance was provided for an AGIP project in Val d'Agri, modernisation of ENEL's power grid in central and southern Italy and construction of Wind's telecoms network. 
  • Infrastructure: the main operations involved financing the high-speed train network; urban renewal, roads and other transport projects in Florence, Milan, Naples, Turin, Palermo and Rome; rehabilitation of the Italian section of the Mont Blanc tunnel (closed to traffic following the fire of 24 March 1999); and reconstruction measures following the earthquakes in Umbria and The Marches.

The EIB in 2000: key facts

Innovation 2000 Initiative (i2i)

The EIB launched this initiative to promote the Lisbon Strategy decided by the European Council (March 2000), which aims to build a Europe based on knowledge and innovation. Through this initiative, the EIB Group is directing lending towards the following objectives: development of SMEs and entrepreneurship, diffusion of innovation, research and development, information and communications technology networks, and human capital formation. i2i also embraces investment in European audiovisual projects in order to strengthen the financial base of Europe's audiovisual and film industry and its capacity to adapt to the challenges of digital technology.

Since May 2000, loans worth EUR 1.6 billion have been signed under i2i for investment in communications networks (EUR 965 million) and education (450 million), notably computer literacy and teaching. Furthermore, venture capital operations of some EUR 215 million in favour of innovative SMEs have been concluded.

Over the next three years, the EIB expects to lend between EUR 12 billion and EUR 15 billion under this initiative.

Venture capital and reform of the EIF

A major element of i2i is expansion of EIB activity in the venture capital sector through operations in support of SMEs in industry. The reserve set up to cover the risks associated with such operations has been increased from EUR 1 to 2 billion.

Concentrating all venture capital business, hitherto conducted within the EIB Group as a whole, (EUR 1.2 billion already committed) at the level of the European Investment Fund has given an enormous boost to the Fund's financial and operational capacity. Although the reform preserved the tripartite structure of the EIF (whose capital is owned by the EIB, the European Commission and a number of commercial banks), the EIB has become the majority shareholder with a stake of more than 60%.

Geographical breakdown of contracts signed in Italy

01.01 - 31.12.2000 01.01 - 31.12.1999
EUR million % EUR million %
BASILICATA 200.0 5.2 262.1 9.0
CALABRIA 0.0 0.0 9.5 0.3
CAMPANIA 131.0 3.4 201.9 6.9
LATIUM 147.3 3.8 90.4 3.1
MOLISE 0.0 0.0 3.2 0.1
APULIA 236.2 6.1 15.9 0.5
SARDINIA 0.0 0.0 44.7 1.5
SICILY 88.0 2.3 70.0 2.4
Sub-total 802.5 20.7 697.5 23.9
LATIUM 77.5 2.0 399.4 13.7
THE MARCHES 260.0 6.7 91.6 3.1
TUSCANY 91.0 2.4 376.1 12.9
UMBRIA 260.0 6.7 41.8 1.4
Sub-total 688.5 17.8 908.9 31.1
EMILIA-ROMAGNA 416.0 10.7 444.6 15.2
LOMBARDY 475.8 12.3 103.7 3.5
PIEDMONT 360.8 9.3 62.0 2.1
TRENTINO ALTO-ADIGE 6.0 0.2 1.7 0.1
VALLE D'AOSTA 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.0
VENETO 50.0 1.3 68.6 2.4
Sub-total 1 309.4 33.8 680.5 23.3
MULTI-REGIONAL 1 070.0 27.6 633.0 21.7
TOTAL INDIVIDUAL LOANS 3 870.4 100.0 2 919.9 100.0

MEZZOGIORNO 83.4 11.8 31.5 5.1
OTHER REGIONS 621.7 88.2 590.3 94.9
705.1 100.0 621.8 100.0

(1) 1 EUR = 1936.27 ITL ; 0.6304 GBP