As the leading financers of French local authorities, the Caisse des Dépôts Group and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have decided to coordinate their actions and skills and mobilise the Caisse des Dépôts network to meet as effectively as possible the financing needs of public sector entities for their economic and social development projects. This was announced by Pierre-René Lemas, CEO of the Caisse des Dépôts Group, and EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive at the Congress of the Association of French Regions, which took place in Toulouse on 9 and 10 October.

Several programmes have been put in place since the historic agreement concluded by the Caisse des Dépôts Group and the EIB in June 2013 in key sectors for regional development: sustainable transport (high performance buses), health (Hospitals of the Future Plan), high speed broadband (HSB Plan), higher education (Operation Campus), but also the energy efficiency of public buildings (schools programme). The EIB has also concluded an agreement with Bpifrance, a subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts, to finance small and medium-sized enterprises to the tune of EUR 750 million, plus the provision of a EUR 200 million guarantee facility.

The two institutions’ joint action is intended above all to be concrete and targeted, with the deployment of accessible financial instruments tailored to the funding needs of project promoters. A total of nearly EUR 10 billion worth of long-term loans (over 20 years) has been jointly mobilised for local authorities by Caisse des Dépôts and the EIB, and EUR 950 million has been provided in support of SMEs via Bpifrance. It should be noted that the contribution of Caisse des Dépôts will come from the saving funds envelope earmarked for local authority projects.

A win-win partnership

When, in June 2013, in the presence of the Ministers of Finance and European Affairs, the EIB and the Caisse des Dépôts Group made a joint undertaking, the goal was clearly defined: to support investment in the heart of the regions in order to help boost growth and jobs. There is therefore a need to simplify and speed up appraisal procedures and evaluate loan applications jointly in order to achieve economies of scale by utilising the Caisse des Dépôts’ network and the EIB’s financial expertise. This partnership will also facilitate the cofinancing of small-scale infrastructure, while providing project promoters with decentralised loan access points in the regions thanks to Caisse des Dépôts’ network.

Thus, throughout France, Caisse des Dépôts’ regional offices are turning into regional entry points into the EIB, facilitating the access of local authorities and public sector entities – regions, departments, municipalities, intermunicipal associations, hospitals – to long-term financing on attractive terms.

Concrete and targeted action

The joint action of Caisse des Dépôts and the EIB has already resulted in cofinancing in a number of areas: e.g. the development of high speed broadband with the support provided to SYANE in Haute-Savoie; and the first French project bond (Axione), signed in July and enabling the acceleration of digital coverage in the regions. The support for universities will, for its part, serve to finance 13 establishments with an overall investment of EUR 2.6 billion.