Under its Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), the European Investment Bank (EIB) is participating to the tune of EUR 10 million in the launch of EUROMED - Fondo Comune di Investimento Mobiliare di tipo Chiuso (Euromed Fund).

Focusing on investment in small and medium-sized enterprises in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and other Mediterranean Partner Countries, the Fund is being sponsored by the Lombardy Region in Italy, through its financial arm Finlombarda SpA, and the Milan Chamber of Commerce. The fund is managed by Finlombarda Gestioni SGR S.p.A., a majority-owned subsidiary of Finlombarda authorised by Bank of Italy to manage funds (Societa' di Gestione del Risparmio).

As the Euromed Fund is based in Italy, in order to ensure local presence the fund manager has contracted local advisors based in North Africa with a good knowledge of their respective countries of operation and the ability to actively monitor companies in the fund's portfolio.

This private equity fund, which has reached a size of EUR 50 million and counts leading Italian banks, the Lombardy Region and the Milan Chamber of Commerce as co investors, will help to increase the volume of foreign direct investment into Mediterranean Partner Countries. By virtue of its location, the Fund will have preferential access to projects promoted by Italian enterprises. Through the network they form, local managers will be able to use the Fund to support the expansion in the region of local enterprises.

The EIB's participation to the Fund has been finalised in Milan with the signatures of Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, EIB Vice-President in charge of FEMIP and Mr Marco Nicolai, managing director of Finlombarda Gestioni SRG S.p.A.. On this occasion, also Fondazione Cariplo, represented by its President Mr Giuseppe Guzzetti, has signed a parallel investment in the Euromed Fund, for an amount of EUR 5 million.

At the official signing ceremony Mr de Fontaine Vive stated: This operation is the twenty second fund operating on Mediterranean Partner Countries in which FEMIP has invested. We are ready to share with Euromed Fund the knowledge we have developed over more than ten years of private equity activities in the region. We look forward to this fund becoming a new, additional source of finance for local enterprises, promoting regional trade and industrial ventures, fostering north-south and south-south cooperation. Our investment signals FEMIP's support for the development of the local private equity industry and, more broadly, to the local private sector .

In addition to its loans and technical assistance grants, FEMIP encourages the development of the private sector by acquiring equity and quasi-equity stakes in private companies in order to help Mediterranean Partner Countries speed up their economic and social modernisation, in particular through increased regional integration. These FEMIP activities are financed from the European Community budget (EUR 200 million over the period 2001-2006) and by the FEMIP Trust Fund, which was set up in December 2004 (EUR 33.5 million).