The European Investment Bank provides a EUR 15 million global loan to AS Sampo Banka, the Latvian subsidiary bank of the Finnish Sampo Group. The loan will serve for financing projects of small and medium scale promoted by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in industry, services and tourism as well as by public or private entities in the fields of environment, infrastructure, development of a knowledge-based economy, rational use of energy and upgrading of health and education facilities in Latvia.

This loan represents the first EIB global loan granted to AS Sampo Banka in Latvia, whereas the EIB has previously granted three loans to the Estonian and Lithuanian subsidiary banks of the Sampo Group over the period 2002-2005. Thus in total the EIB has granted four loans in the amount EUR 65 million to the Sampo Group's subsidiary banks in the three Baltic States.

The loan signed today aims at continuing EIB support to the Latvian SME sector that represents a significant source of job opportunities and economic growth. Co-financing of projects in the area of environmental protection, infrastructure, energy, R&D and innovation dissemination, health and education will enhance the implementation of the respective EU policies and objectives. This global loan will thus contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of the Latvian economy and its better integration into the Single Market.

Global loans represent special credit lines to selected partner banks and enable the EIB to finance small and medium scale projects with individual investment costs between EUR 40 000 and EUR 25 million. EIB partner banks, like AS Sampo Banka, assess each project, assume the credit risk and set the loan conditions for the final beneficiary, taking into account the favourable lending conditions of the EIB. Including the operation signed today, the EIB has extended nine global loans to five Latvian banks for a total amount of EUR 165 million and, in addition, Latvian projects have been financed through combined Pan-Baltic global loans totalling EUR 120 million for on-lending in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The EIB, as the European Union's long-term financing institution, has provided loans of about EUR 550 million for projects in Latvia since 1994. Apart from financing investments of small and medium-sized companies, projects supported by EIB lending in Latvia relate to priorities in the fields of transport (railways, ports, airport), energy infrastructure, and environmental and municipal infrastructure.

In the new Member States of Central and Eastern Europe, the EIB has lent more than EUR 32 billion to projects fostering European integration since 1990. The EIB is thus the most important external source of finance for Central and Eastern Europe.