The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Banca Intesa have concluded a loan agreement in favour of Italian SMEs, for a total of EUR 400 million to be made available during 2004.

The agreement was signed at a meeting between Gerlando Genuardi, EIB Vice-President, and Corrado Passera, CEO of Banca Intesa.

It relates to the second tranche of financing to underpin the development of Italian SMEs, intermediated by Banca Intesa in full accordance with the EIB's institutional priorities.

This initiative also constitutes the first part of a broader Banca Intesa and EIB project in support of private investment in innovative sectors.

A portion of this operation will in fact be earmarked for the IntesaNova programme - a Banca Intesa project mounted in cooperation with certain prestigious Italian universities and research institutions aimed at financing innovative SMEs. The EIB's backing means that Banca Intesa will be able to offer particularly favourable terms.

Banca Intesa is one of the EIB's chief lending intermediaries in Italy.