On 24 April 2003 in Marseilles, CDC PME (Caisse des Dépôts Group), Proparco (AFD Group), CEPAC (Caisse d'Epargne Group) and the EIB (European Investment Bank) launched Averroès Finance, an investment capital fund of funds for the Mediterranean region.

Averroès Finance will acquire stakes in existing or future venture capital funds in the Maghreb and Mashreq countries, which will in turn invest in the equity of start-up, growth or mature local SMEs. It thereby aims to promote the development of structured and professional SME equity financing in the Maghreb and Mashreq, while fostering financial synergies in the region.

Averroès Finance, a simplified joint stock company with initial capital of EUR 26.5 million, will benefit greatly from the sectoral and geographical expertise of its promoters: CDC PME (EUR 9 million), PROPARCO (EUR 9 million), Caisse d'Epargne Provence-Alpes-Corse - CEPAC (EUR 5 million) and the EIB (EUR 3.5 million). Averroès Finance is supervised by CDC PME, which manages it jointly with Proparco.

This fund of funds will see its capital increased gradually to EUR 30 million with the inclusion of new subscribers: European and Mediterranean public and semi-public shareholders, institutional investors and financial institutions. CDC-PME and Proparco are bringing to Averroès Finance their holdings in the "Capital Morocco", "Maghreb Private Equity" and "Tuninvest Innovations" funds, to which the EIB has also directly contributed.

CDC PME is one of the lead players in development of the investment capital market in France. It is contributing its know-how in this sphere as well as in that of new technologies. CDC PME is also putting Maghreb and Mashreq companies in contact with firms in its French portfolio in order to facilitate their growth and subsequent buy-out by industrial shareholders.

PROPARCO is one of the foremost investors in venture capital funds in the Maghreb, with more than ten in its portfolio. PROPARCO is making available its expertise and local knowledge through the involvement of its contacts on the ground. PROPARCO played a pioneering role in the region by underpinning the development of investment capital activity in the Maghreb during the 1990s.

CEPAC (Caisse d'Epargne group), the "leading financial institution in the Mediterranean", with 264 branches, 2 550 staff and 2 100 000 customers, will facilitate integration within the Mediterranean region and enable the different market players to link up. In addition, CEPAC's venture capital arm, VIVERIS, will provide the know-how to ensure the introduction of standardised, professional practices in the administrative and financial monitoring of funds.

The EIB is the European Union's financial institution. It has been active in the EU's Mediterranean Partner Countries since 1974 and recently inaugurated a new facility for these, FEMIP, with the aim of investing EUR 8-10 billion by 2006. FEMIP focuses especially on developing the local private sector and it is under this heading that the EIB is participating as the fourth sponsor of Averroès Finance.