The European Investment Bank provides a EUR 75 million Global Loan to Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d. (NLB) to finance projects of small and medium-scale enterprises and municipalities in Slovenia.

The loan will serve for co-financing of small and medium sized projects in the field of energy and energy savings, environmental protection, infrastructure supporting developments of health, education, urban renewal and social housing, further industry and services covering also creative and cultural services as well as projects in the area of tourism.

EIB Global Loans have been developed as a successful tool in providing long-term EIB funds for financing smaller projects implemented by the SME sector or by municipalities under favourable conditions. Since 1990, the EIB has provided five global loan facilities for a combined amount exceeding EUR 130 million to partner banks in Slovenia. The present Global Loan is the first one granted to the NLB.

The Global Loans represent special credit lines to selected partner banks operating in the individual countries. This financial scheme is used by the EIB to finance small and medium-size projects with a total investment higher than EUR 40 000 and less than EUR 25 million. EIB partner banks, like the Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d., assess each project, assume the credit risk and set the loan conditions for the final beneficiary. Interested investors should address the intermediaries directly.

NLB is also expected to benefit under the signed global loan from the SME Finance Facility, a special scheme promoted by the European Commission under the PHARE Program. This facility aims at supporting term financing for the smaller segment of the SME market. It provides the partner bank with an incentive in the form of a specific contribution to further develop a strong and competitive SME sector in the future Member States. In this concern, the EC has made available EUR 30 million for the implementation of the scheme with the EIB. The EIB in turn will allocate a minimum of EUR 300 million of its global loan financing for the SME Finance Facility.

Mr. Wolfgang Roth, the Vice-President of the EIB, who signed the loan today with Mr. Andrej Hazabent, Deputy President of the Board and Mr. Borut Stanic Member of the Management Board, commented on the signature saying: The EIB is pleased to sign its first global loan with NLB, the largest bank in Slovenia, that is an important partner to the EIB. With EU accession and future developments in Slovenia, I see substantial scope for extending this cooperation in priority areas such as SME's, infrastructure and other fields, as the Bank's activities in Slovenia continue to grow.

The EIB, as the European Union's long-term financing institution, has provided more than EUR 1.3 billion for projects in Slovenia since its independence. It's lending activities in Slovenia concern not only infrastructure but also include lending to the banking and corporate sector.

Generally, in the future Member States of Central Europe, the EIB has lent more than EUR 24 billion to projects since 1990. Therefore, the EIB is the most important external source of finance for Central and Eastern Europe.