The EIB and UniCredit Group strengthen their cooperation to implement the Joint Action Plan of the largest multilateral lenders in Central and Eastern Europe – the EIB Group, the EBRD, and the World Bank Group – who have committed to provide up to EUR 24.5 bn lending to the SME sector hit by the global economic crisis. Out of this sum, the EIB will provide the largest part, with some EUR 11 bn in SME lending facilities in Central and Eastern Europe, while UniCredit Group subsidiaries and leasing companies (some 15 in total) throughout the region represent the largest counterpart with new financing in 2009 exceeding EUR 1.2 bn.

EIB and UniCredit Group also work together on a swift allocation of the funds. The interested countries include Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Republic of Serbia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey.

The proposed credit lines implement the EIB’s priority of supporting Europe’s SMEs and helping to reduce the impact of the current credit crisis by improving the access of SMEs and larger companies to medium and long-term funds on advantageous financial terms. As part of this effort the EIB has simplified its procedures and broadened the scope of its financing by also covering intangible investments and working capital. In addition the Bank increased transparency in the mechanism for the transfer of the financial advantage to final beneficiaries.

For UniCredit, the cooperation with the EIB is part of a wider effort of the Group to fund the local economies in the core countries of activity. In particular, the Group has developed a number of initiatives to support the SMEs, such as Impresa Italia in Italy and similar undertakings in Austria, Germany and CEE countries. 

“The common effort to support the real economy of the Central and Southern European region is a key objective of the EIB. The action UniCredit Group has undertaken with the EIB and the other IFIs provides markets with clear positive signals. This is happening in parallel with EIB support for UniCredit Group’s entities in other countries: in Austria, for example, new financing for a total of EUR 375 m, consisting of SME loans (EUR 200 m), leasing (EUR 100 m) and risk sharing (EUR 75 m) have been approved”, says Matthias Kollatz-Ahnen, EIB Vice-President.

“The EIB has already been in past years a significant contributor to our CEE network and particularly supports us in SME lending, so we are pleased to see that this commitment is continuing and we welcome further future cooperation”, said Carlo Vivaldi, CFO, UniCredit Bank Austria, the sub holding responsible for CEE business. 

Background information:

About EIB

The EIB is the European Union’s financing institution bank. Thanks to its Statute and shareholders, the 27 Member States, it has the best possible rating on the capital markets (AAA). The EIB can therefore borrow funds on the capital markets on favourable terms, which it passes on in the loans that it grants, in particular to SMEs via intermediary banks.

Through its credit lines, the EIB finances up to 100% of their total costs of projects that are usually implemented by SMEs (with fewer than 250 employees). It also provides loans, for up to 50% of project costs, to mid-cap companies (with more than 250 and fewer than 3 000 employees). In this effort, the EIB cooperates with well established financing institutions, like UniCredit Bank Austria AG, that know the local market, have SMEs and mid-cap companies as their customers and dispose of a well developed network.

About UniCredit Group

UniCredit Group is a major international financial institution with strong roots in 22 European countries as well as representative offices in 27 other markets, more than 10,200 branches and approximately 174,000 employees at 31 December 2008.

In the CEE region, UniCredit operates the largest international banking network with over 4,000 branches and outlets and around 78,000 employees.

The Group operates in the following CEE countries: Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine.