The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 250 million to the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR - Hrvatska banka za obnovu i razvitak) to finance projects promoted by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), mid-cap companies and municipalities in Croatia. EIB funds will support undertakings in the areas of industry and services, including tourism, and small and medium-scale infrastructure schemes promoted by local authorities.

EIB Vice-President Anton Rop stated: “I very much welcome the fact that the first EIB loan signed after Croatia joined the Union addresses the key lending priority of the EIB – to improve the extremely tight financing conditions for SMEs and mid-caps in the current prolonged economic crisis. Better availability of long-term financing is vital for further development of this sector, which is the backbone of the Croatian economy and the main driver of growth and employment.”

“There is high demand for HBOR’s loans: in the first six months of the year, loan approvals rose by 11 percent compared to the same period last year which had been a record year for us in terms of both the number and amount of approved loans. The EIB’s funds, which will be available to us from today, will enable us to continue our increased lending activities and maintain the favourable terms and conditions of loans for investment projects,” said Anton Kovačev, President of the Managing Board of the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The EIB has been operating in Croatia since 2001 in order to help the country integrate into the EU by meeting the accession criteria and coming into line with the Union’s economic development. Up to now, EIB lending commitments amount to some EUR 3.5 billion to strengthen Croatia’s competitiveness. The EIB’s lending portfolio in Croatia is well balanced and covers all of the country’s economic sectors, ranging from basic infrastructure to manufacturing and services, including support for small and medium-sized companies through local financial institutions.

This loan represents a continuation of the very successful cooperation between the EIB and HBOR. Including the current loan, the EIB has already granted credits to HBOR totalling some EUR 1 billion.  This credit line is being provided under the Joint IFI Action Plan for Growth in Central and South Eastern Europe, which is focused on providing better access to long-term finance for Europe's SMEs to help mitigate the effects of the financial crisis. Those funds will support growth by fostering economic restructuring, consolidation and diversification, as well as enhancing long-term competiveness through the increased availability of long-term credit.