The EIB is set to launch a raft of financing operations in support of initiatives promoted by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Italy. The intermediary is Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (Banca MPS), for which the EIB has arranged a “new loan for SMEs” amounting to EUR 250 million for the financing, via leasing contracts, of SMEs operating in the industrial, tourism and services sectors.

The operation was signed in Luxembourg by EIB Vice-President Dario Scannapieco, the Managing Director of MPS Leasing&Factoring, Gianfranco Antognoli, and the Representative of the Montepaschi Group in Brussels, Giuseppe Iadicicco.

“I am especially pleased to sign this agreement, the first of its type in Italy following the EIB’s adoption at the end of September of a more flexible version of its loan to financial  intermediaries in support of SMEs”, remarked Mr Scannapieco. “This operation demonstrates the Bank’s desire to step up its financial commitment to Italian SMEs to support them in the current difficult economic climate, and confirms the quality of its relationship with the Monte dei Paschi di Siena Group”. 

The EIB funds will be advanced to the beneficiary SMEs through the Montepaschi Group’s two leasing companies, MPS Leasing&Factoring and MPS Commerciale Leasing, on the basis of a structure of joint and several liability with the parent company, Banca MPS.

Managed through its network of accredited financial intermediaries, the EIB’s “new loan for SMEs” has a simpler, more flexible format compared to the traditional global loan in order to reach an ever-increasing number of SMEs in an even more transparent and efficient manner.

The traditional “global loans” instrument was renewed in 2008 to meet the financing requirements of SMEs that emerged in the course of a process of consultation conducted by the EIB between 2007 and 2008 with the SME sector’s leading operators and representatives at European level.

At the end of September, the EIB approved an initial package of measures, including an increase in the Bank’s financing threshold for SMEs from 50% to 100% of the investment cost, up to a maximum of EUR 12.5 million.

The “new loan for SMEs” instrument will enable the intermediary banks to finance all types of investment or expenditure requested by expanding enterprises with fewer than 250 employees (fixed investments, research and development projects and even permanent working capital increases).

Credit operations carried out via leasing arrangements are one of the main sources of finance for SMEs: in fact, they account for around 40% of the financial resources of companies with fewer than 100 employees.

Note to editors

The European Investment Bank (EIB) supports the political and strategic objectives of the European Union by granting long-term loans for economically sound investment projects. The EIB’s shareholders are the 27 EU Member States. Italy is one of the four leading shareholders, along with the United Kingdom, Germany and France, each holding a 16.2% stake in the Bank. In 2007, the EIB advanced loans amounting to EUR 47.8 billion, of which EUR 5.6 billion to Italy, and it raised funds totalling EUR 54.7 billion. The EIB’s financing priorities within the EU are: support for social and economic cohesion and convergence; research and innovation; the development of trans-European networks (TENs); support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); environmental protection and the urban environment; and sustainable, competitive and secure energy supplies.

In recent years, Europe’s 23 million SMEs have become a focus of interest at Community and national level. On 25 June 2008 the European Commission adopted the “Small Business Act for Europe”, which places SMEs at the heart of Community and national policies. If the EU wishes to achieve its objectives of speeding up economic growth and creating greater numbers of better-quality jobs, it knows that it will have to assign the most important role to SMEs, the leading source of new jobs in Europe.

The EIB is ready to play its part. The EIB was specifically requested by the informal Nice Council of EU Finance Ministers (12-13 September 2008) to step up its financial commitment to SMEs to support them in the current difficult economic climate. For the 2008-2009 period, the EIB will advance EUR 15 billion to European SMEs. Until 2011, the financing “package” provided for by the EIB amounts to EUR 30 billion.