Today in Rome, the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a finance contract of EUR 150 million with Piaggio&C. spa for carrying out the Pontedera group's research and development (R&D) projects. The EIB was represented by Vice-President Dario Scannapieco, who is responsible for operations in Italy, Malta and the Western Balkans, and the Piaggio group was represented by Michele Pallottini, Finance General Manager.

The loan, with a maturity of seven years, will cover almost 50% of the group's plans for investment in R&D and innovation up to 2012, totalling over EUR 320 million.

For the EIB, this operation forms part of the new plan to support the automotive industry and clean transport - one of the initiatives put forward at the European Council meeting of 11 and 12 December in response to the global financial crisis. These initiatives provide for an increase in EIB financing to around EUR 30 billion over the next two years, particularly in the SME, energy, climate change and, of course, clean automotive industry sectors.

"With this agreement we are sending an early positive signal, in line with Ecofin's instructions last September, that we are actively endeavouring to mitigate the impact of the global financial crisis on the economies of the Member States of the European Union", remarked Mr Scannapieco. "Furthermore, in the Piaggio group we have found an excellent partner with interesting development plans in the area of technological innovation", added the EIB Vice-President.

Notes for 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.