The European Investment Bank has approved loans totalling EUR 425 million to finance the expansion and upgrading of the cable telecoms network of ONO and its subsidiaries in Spain.

EUR 350 million will go towards financing investment in ONO's overall cable network across Spain. A further EUR 75 million will be specifically directed towards supporting investment in the broadband cable network in the Autonomous Region of Castilla y León.

The entire EIB finance for these projects has been intermediated by Banco de Sabadell, Banesto, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, Caja d'Estalvis de Catalunya and La Caixa.

Scheduled for completion at the end of 2007, these projects comprise infrastructure investment aimed at expanding the present coverage of the telecoms networks of ONO and its subsidiaries in Spain and upgrading existing equipment in order to provide users with a greater bandwidth and enable the development of new multimedia and internet services.

The EIB is supporting these projects as part of its Innovation 2010 Initiative (i2i), a dedicated financing facility that the Bank is deploying in response to the strategic objective set by the March 2000 Lisbon European Council of creating a competitive knowledge-based European economy characterised by sustained growth, more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. The EIB's goal is to foster innovation to the tune of EUR 50 billion during the current decade. Financing the expansion and upgrading of ONO's cable network in Spain constitutes an example of how the EIB supports the development and dissemination of information and communications technologies under its i2i programme.

The EIB was created in 1958 by the founding treaty of the European Economic Community, the Treaty of Rome. It was set up to contribute to the integrated and balanced development of the Member States, as well as to their economic and social cohesion, by providing long-term finance for capital investment fulfilling EU objectives. The EIB supports viable projects promoting: development of the Union's less favoured regions; construction of trans-European transport, telecoms and energy networks; the international competitiveness and integration of Europe's industry, especially SMEs; environmental protection and improvement; security of the Union's energy supply; and health and education. Within certain limits, the EIB also finances projects outside the European Union in implementation of the EU's development aid policy towards partner countries.

Owned by the EU Member States, the EIB funds its lending operations through borrowings raised on the capital markets, where its bond issues are systematically rated AAA.