The European Investment Bank grants two global loans to finance projects of small and medium-scale enterprises and municipalities in the Czech Republic: EUR 50 million to Ceská Sporitelna, a.s. and EUR 40 million to VB Leasing spol. s r.o.. The loans will finance projects in particular in the fields of environmental protection and improvement, rational use of energy, infrastructure, industry, development of education and health care facilities services, tourism or other projects enhancing the knowledge-based economy in the Czech Republic.

The global loan signed with Ceská Sporitelna is the first global loan with this bank. It will extend the network of EIB partner banks in the Czech Republic, making the long term financing more accessible to small and medium companies and municipalities. This is the first global loan in Czech Republic including the Municipal Infrastructure Facility as proposed by the European Commission.

This financing scheme is focused on promoting projects involving the building, refurbishing or upgrading of small municipal infrastructure with total costs of between EUR 40 000 and EUR 5 million in the border regions with Germany and Austria.

The global loan signed with VB Leasing is already the second one extended to this intermediary: in November 2002 a global loan of EUR 20 million was granted and fully utilized.

VB Leasing will benefit under the today signed global loan from the SME Finance Facility, a special scheme promoted by the European Commission under the PHARE Program. It provides the partner bank with an incentive to lend to the smaller end of this clientele.

Mr. Ivan Pilip, new EIB Vice-President responsible for EIB financial operations in Poland, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, stated: The EIB supports the development of small and medium sized companies in the Czech Republic that represent an important source of employment opportunities. The today signed global loans will further contribute to the increase of long-term financing for small investments in the country being so an important element to support economic growth.

The Global Loans represent special credit lines to selected partner financial institutions. 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 financial institutions assess each project, assume the credit risk and set the loan conditions for the final beneficiary.

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 signed global loan facilities for a total amount of almost EUR 500 million with nine partner financial institutions in the Czech Republic.

Since 1990 the EIB has provided loans in the Czech Republic exceeding EUR 5 billion. The Czech Republic is the second largest EIB borrower by volume among the new Member States and the largest one as far as loans per capita are concerned.

Generally, in the new Member States of Central Europe, the EIB has lent more than EUR 26 billion to projects promoting European integration since 1990. Therefore, the EIB is the most important external source of finance for Central and Eastern Europe.