>@EIB/To be defined

A finance contract between Bpifrance and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group aimed at providing finance tailored to the specific needs of innovative SMEs in France was signed on Wednesday 25 September by EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive, Nicolas Dufourcq, CEO of Bpifrance, and Alessandro Tappi, Head of Guarantees and Securitisation at the European Investment Fund (EIF), the EIB’s specialist enterprise financing subsidiary. This contract follows on from the agreement signed by the two institutions on 24 June this year.

This major operation will draw on the combined financing capacity of the EIB Group (the EIB and its subsidiary the EIF) and Bpifrance. It is also innovative in terms of the choice of financing instruments used. Aware of the major challenges facing the innovation sector in France and the urgent needs of SMEs in this field, the EIB Group has made available to a Bpifrance a EUR 750 million credit line and a EUR 200 million guarantee envelope under the EIF’s guarantee facility.  The EIF’s contribution, which deploys the Risk Sharing Instrument (RSI) supported by the European Commission, will specifically provide Bpifrance with a 40% guarantee on its loans to innovative firms. Using the RSI will substantially enhance the leverage of the EIB loan, while encouraging the assumption of risk on innovative SMEs. This unprecedented mobilisation of resources will be the EIB Group’s biggest operation in France in 2013.

This financing operation will target SMEs with fewer than 250 and mid-caps with fewer than 3000 employees in the crucial period for the firms concerned between the end of R&D and the commercial exploitation phase, when finance is scarce.

This operation marks a major step in the joint commitment of the EIB Group and Bpifrance to support firms in the heart of France’s regions as effectively as possible: it is the first concrete manifestation of the partnership between the two institutions launched exactly three months ago at the European Enterprise Financing Conference in the presence of Minister Pierre Moscovici. This joint operation is being mounted in the framework of the European Growth and Jobs Pact adopted on 28 and 29 June 2012 by the EU’s Heads of State or Government, for which the EIB Group will be mobilising over EUR 7 billion in France in 2013 alone.

France’s Minister of the Economy and Finance, Pierre Moscovici, welcomed the fact that “this agreement will help Bpifrance step up its support for innovative SMEs by mobilising the European Investment Bank’s resources. The partnership between Bpifrance and the European Investment Bank is a practical outcome of the European Growth Pact benefiting French companies”.

EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive said: “We welcome this operation, which represents a first in France. Only three months after signing the partnership agreement, our two institutions are already able to combine our resources and skills to provide businesses with innovative financing tailored to their financial and operational needs. This is how Europe works: first and foremost, concrete action in the heart of the regions aimed at restoring growth and employment in France.”

Nicolas Dufourcq, CEO of Bpifrance, added: "I am delighted to sign this agreement, which will enable us to provide more loans to innovative French firms and fill a clear market gap in this sector. Innovation is the key to unlocking France’s growth and competitiveness potential. This agreement is therefore a specific example of the type of joint operations that Bpifrance and the EIB Group wish to develop in line with the joint statement of intent they signed last June.”