During his visit to Finland on March 10-11, Vice-President Ewald Nowotny of the European Investment Bank, the EU's financing institution, will sign various loans for Finnish projects. On the agenda: Global Loans to Finnvera (EUR 50 million) and to Municipality Finance (EUR 50 million), the City of Vantaa (urban infrastructure; EUR 50 million) and a loan for EUR 180 million to Senaati Kiinteistöt for building and renovating higher education and research buildings throughout Finland.

These loan signatures clearly show the EIB's diversification in Finland with support for small-and medium sized enterprises, (urban) infrastructure finance and (higher) education. This financing fits in the EIB's mission to further the policy objectives of the European Union by making long-term finance available for sound investment.

Global loans

EIB loan financing of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is organised through Global Loans schemes where the EIB makes credit lines available to financial intermediaries. These intermediaries select the projects based on agreed criteria. The Global Loans scheme combines the EIB's funding at favourable terms and the national intermediary's close relationship and knowledge of the local market.

The Global Loan agreement with Finnvera for the amount of EUR 50 million is intended to increase the productivity and competitive capacity of SMEs. The financing is directed at investments in industry and services sectors undertaken by SMEs, most of which will be situated in Assisted Areas of Finland. Finnvera, one of the principal financers of SMEs in Finland, has already three other Global Loans with the EIB that are fully utilised.

The Global Loan of EUR 50 million to the Municipality Finance Bank will be used to finance local authorities' small and medium-scale investments, primarily in energy, infrastructure, urban renewal, environment, health and education in Finland. Municipality Finance was established by municipalities as a non-profit maximising vehicle with an objective to provide competitive funding for the municipality sector.

Urban infrastructure

The City of Vantaa is the final beneficiary of a EUR 50 million loan to adapt, renew and expand the town's infrastructure and educational facilities to the changes and demographic challenges implied by the continued growth of the city. Due to its location in southern Finland within the Helsinki metropolitan region and national and international communication axes, Vantaa expects a rapid economic development. The EIB part-financed projects are geared towards sustaining growth in employment, offering improved working and living conditions in the area. Concentrating on urban infrastructure components, they are part of a comprehensive transport development strategy aiming at improving accessibility, at reducing congesting with a balanced mix between public and private modes and at containing commuting distances.

The Finnish Higher Education Institutions project contributes towards a knowledge-based society and is in line with current EU orientations on human capital. It will provide teaching facilities, which meet modern needs in terms of infrastructure and equipment. The project also entails an important i2i (the EIB Innovation Initiative) element. The enhancement of, for instance, biotechnology, microelectronics and the new building for information technology, all feature design to accommodate modern technologies and equipment.

EIB Vice President Ewald Nowotny said: I am pleased to note that three of the loans signed, the two Global Loans and the loan for Higher Education loan, will support initiatives which are located throughout the country with the bulk of the Global Loan lending being taken up in assisted Areas. By the same token the Higher Education loan will support 12 regional institutions (including the University of Lapland) as well as a number of institutions in the Helsinki area such as the Helsinki University of Technology and the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration.

The AAA-rated European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term lending institution, contributes by means of its long-term loans and capital investments towards the integration and balanced development of its Member States as well as in countries outside the Union.

In Finland, the EIB has extended loans totalling over EUR 744 million for infrastructure investments, notably roads, railroads, bridges and telecommunication as well as investments within the energy, environment and the industry sector. In addition to large projects, the EIB has financed small and medium-sized public and private investments through credit lines (Global Loans) to financial intermediaries such as Finnvera.