The European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU's financing institution, is advancing a EUR 16.5 million loan to Banca delle Marche for on-lending to Navigazione Montanari SpA (NM), for the purchase of a new ship for the transport of ethylene gas. The Board of the EIB has approved a total loan of up to EUR 33 million for the purchase of two ships. The ships will operate between ports of EU Member States or between ports of EU Member States and ports of Third Countries. The EU is a net importer of ethylene.

The project is expected to smooth regional fluctuations in ethylene production and increase flexibility of supply, improving the competitiveness of the European petrochemical industry.

The ships will be of the gas carrier type with state-of-the-art characteristics, complying with the most recent EU and international regulations. The contractor, Cantieri Navali di Pesaro, with the supervision of NM, manages construction.

The two vessels fly an Italian flag. Delivery is scheduled respectively for May and August 2003.

NM, a company listed on the Italian Stock Exchange, has embarked on an expansion programme involving large investments, mainly for the purchase of new ships. In the aftermath of this expansion, the company will have one of the largest and newest fleets in Europe, complying with the most recent and stringent safety and environment regulations.

The European Investment Bank finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular: regional development, trans-European networks in transport, telecoms and energy, industrial competitiveness and integration, small and medium sized enterprises, environmental protection, energy security, and health and education projects. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the EU's co-operation external policy. Owned by the EU Member States, the EIB raises its funds on capital markets (AAA issuer). In 2002, the EIB lent some EUR 40 billion, of which EUR 6 billion in Italy.