EIB's lending to Italy totalled EUR 6 billion in 2002 (+11%), the highest result ever. The main beneficiary was the infrastructure sector, where financing more than doubled to EUR 2.1 billion. An estimated 60% of operations were for the Assisted Areas.
These results were announced by EIB President Philippe Maystadt and EIB Governor for Italy Prof. Giulio Tremonti, in the presence of Vice President Gerlando Genuardi, at a press conference held at the Ministry of the Economy and Finance in Rome.
Projects in the infrastructure sector concerned railways (operations with TAV and Trenitalia), commercial ports, motorways ( the Florence-Bologna Variante di Valico and Turin-Milan projects), urban infrastructure (Florence, Bologna and Ferrara municipalities) and objective 1 region (Puglia through financing of Regional Operational Programmes in tandem with EU's structural funds. The EIB also advanced financing to assist reconstruction of the regions of northern Italy following floods, including SME's affected by the disaster.
Substantial backing was provided for Italian SMEs, in cooperation with the domestic banking sector. The EIB concluded 21 global loans for a total EUR 2.5 billion, including 17 targeting SMEs, and four dedicated loans: two for small and medium-scale infrastructure, one for the audiovisual sector and medium-scale projects in the renewable energy sector. A global loan is a credit line advanced by the EIB to a financial institution for on-lending to SMEs. A successful effort was also made to further diversify financial intermediaries in favour of regional institutions (Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara, Hypo Alpe Adria Bank and Banca delle Marche). At year-end, 48 financial institutions were intermediating EIB's global loans in Italy, this constitutes the widest network in any Member State.
In the energy sector, three major projects were approved, focusing on upgrading power generation in accordance with the highest environmental and efficiency standards. A EUR 550 million loan to Poste Italiane was made for the modernisation and automation of postal services in Italy.
The EIB's Italian operations are handled out of its Rome office, the Bank's principal external office, directed by Thomas Hackett. Italy's department is also responsible for lending operations in Greece, Cyprus and Malta.
During his visit to Italy, President Maystadt signed two new loans:
- a 10-year EUR 70 million loan to La Rinascente SpA to help finance projects in Objective 1 areas in Italy (4 hypermarkets and 1 shopping centre at Naples and in Sicily). The project will contribute to modernise the Italian distribution chain, which lags behind other European countries. Women, who are more affected by unemployment in the South of Italy (9%), will fill most of the 4200 jobs expected to be created by the project;
- A EUR 75 million loan to Banco Popolare di Verona e Novara, the largest regional bank in Italy, for the financing of SMEs in industry, services, tourism, energy, environment, health and education.