The European Investment Bank (EIB) and BNP Paribas Fortis have signed a new partnership agreement for a EUR 250 million loan designed to support projects by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and midcaps. In total, an additional EUR 500 million will therefore be provided, half by BNP Paribas Fortis and half by the EIB.

The EIB – the European Union's financing institution – intends to use its "Loans for SMEs and midcaps" programme to support their economic development and competitiveness. With that in mind, the EIB works with commercial banks which serve as intermediaries and whose network and expertise in the SMEs and midcaps segment play a key role in the implementation of this programme.

As before, the loans will be provided in the form of a credit line managed by BNP Paribas Fortis in support of enterprises with up to 250 employees for SMEs and 3 000 employees for midcaps.

All projects must be carried out in the EU and may not cost more than EUR 25 million. The EIB's "Loans for SMEs and midcaps" programme is flexible and transparent. The key feature of the Bank's support is lower interest rates and the beneficiary enterprises are explicitly informed of this.

Including this new credit line, BNP Paribas Fortis will have made available nearly EUR 2 billion for Belgian SMEs and midcaps since 2009 in collaboration with the EIB.

At the agreement's signing ceremony, Max Jadot (CEO of BNP Paribas Fortis) said: "BNP Paribas Fortis is pleased to provide further support to its business customers and help finance their projects, thanks in part to this new agreement with the EIB. Self-employed people, professionals, SMEs and midcaps form the backbone of our economy and it is vital that they can obtain the resources required to continue to grow. Thanks to these credit lines in partnership with the EIB, over 2 600 Belgian enterprises in a wide variety of sectors have received a loan on keen terms via our network over the past seven years."

Pim van Ballekom (EIB Vice-President) stated: “I am delighted by this new operation with BNP Paribas Fortis. It is important for Belgian businesses to be able to continue benefiting from the EIB’s terms to finance their projects and it is by bringing together our respective tools and skills that we can help them best. This is how we support the business competitiveness, growth and dynamism that is vital to our economies.”

Each year, the amount of loans provided by the EIB to SMEs and midcaps in the European Union gets bigger. Last year, the Bank provided EUR 22.2 billion, which was passed on via 240 partners to more than 110 000 SMEs and midcaps. This represents substantial support and assures businesses of the ongoing availability of financing for their projects.