In connection with the European regional strategy of Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe, the European Investment Bank, the EU's financing institution, is granting two global loans totalling EUR 75 million to the CMNE Group for operations in Belgium and France.

One loan agreement worth EUR 50 million was signed on 16 June at Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe's head office by its Managing Director, Mr André Cormier, and Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, in the presence of Mr Philippe Vasseur, Chairman of Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe.

This global loan, granted to Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe, complements a EUR 25 million loan in support of SMEs in Belgium, concluded on 20 May with Crédit Professionnel SA, a subsidiary of Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe.

The EUR 50 million CMNE global loan will be on-lent by Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe to the Caisses Locales making up its network. It will be earmarked for part-financing schemes mounted by professionals (craftsmen and the liberal professions) and SMEs in the industrial and service sectors, located in the seven departments in northern France constituting Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe's field of operations.

Global loans are lines of credit opened with banks or other financial intermediaries which pass on the proceeds in the form of sub-loans for small and medium-scale projects meeting the Bank's operational objectives. The attractiveness of this facility for beneficiary companies lies in the opportunity to obtain funds, originating from the EIB, at low cost. In this case, Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe will be able to intensify its policy of providing loans on keen terms to customers whose capital ventures meet the criteria governing global loans.

With its 174 Caisses Locales, Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe constitutes the third-largest Crédit Mutuel federation in France. This 100-year-old company has in recent years significantly developed its professional and SME business and, with its specialist subsidiaries, now covers the full gamut of companies' financing requirements.

The EIB Group underpins SME investment with its medium and long-term global loans, venture capital finance and counter guarantees for the banking sector, thus offering the complete range of facilities required for the development of SMEs in a changing economy. During the past five years, the EIB has advanced EUR 11.3 billion in global loans to partner institutions in France for SME and local authority projects. For its part, the European Investment Fund (EIF) has acquired stakes totalling approximately EUR 345 million in venture capital funds in France.