Belgium: historic EUR 600 million loan to Wallonia-Brussels Federation
6 December 2016
The EIB and the Walloon Region-Brussels Federation (Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles – FWB) have concluded a loan agreement of historic proportions for the Bank in Belgium - EUR 600m - to finance FWB’s investment programme for the education, research, sports and culture sectors. FWB Minister-President Rudy Demotte, Budget Minister André Flahaut and EIB Vice-President Pim van Ballekom signed an initial EUR 400m tranche at a ceremony held on 6 December at the municipal school in Genval (Walloon Brabant).
FWB invests around EUR 300m a year in its infrastructure.
Regardless of whether they are used to renovate existing buildings or to construct new facilities better suited to current needs, these important investments cannot be fully implemented with own resources alone. Therefore, in order to deliver on its commitment to provide its citizens with high-quality infrastructure, FWB finances its projects through borrowing.
When the Juncker Plan – a vast European initiative for economic recovery through public and private investment – was launched, Minister-President Rudy Demotte visited the EIB in Luxembourg, accompanied by representatives from the Directorates General for Infrastructure and the Budget and Financial Affairs of FWB’s Finance Ministry. “The objective of this visit was to reflect on the way in which we could work together despite the constraints imposed by ESA standards on investment for public authorities,” stated Rudy Demotte.
Following the submission of the loan application and an appraisal procedure that took almost nine months, the EIB is now is a position to propose to FWB the largest financial operation ever mounted in Belgium: a EUR 600m loan, repayable over 20 years, which will help to implement a five-year investment programme worth slightly over EUR 1.3bn.
In order to support FWB’s programme of investments in educational, cultural, sports and research facilities, the EIB, which is rated AAA and therefore able to borrow on the capital markets at floor interest rates, will offer the Federation terms that are even more advantageous than those it currently enjoys thanks to its good credit rating and proactive debt management. This could result in savings of up to EUR 20m for FWB.
The Federation’s investment programme covers the construction and renovation of schools, youth support centres, sports centres, cultural infrastructure and horizontal measures aimed at improving the energy performance of buildings. In addition to infrastructure schemes, 7.1% of the investment programme will be dedicated to scientific research activities.
These projects were already included in the Federation’s budgetary plans and forecasts which take into account the needs resulting from the rapid population growth. This contract therefore provides FWB with a new, cheaper source of finance. “Although our Government has opted to support measures promoting social progress rather than going down the austerity route, we are continuing to manage public funds in a strict and responsible and manner. This operation contributes directly to these efforts by helping us to reduce our debt burden. Moreover, in terms of visibility and reliability, this contract underpins the confidence of existing investors and enhances FWB’s credibility among potential investors, which I very much welcome.” stated Minister-President Rudy Demotte.
“The historic agreement concluded today between FWB and the EIB illustrates the better governance approach adopted by the Ministry, which is based in particular on the diversification of investment funding sources. This loan will enable us to start the implementation of the 1 500 projects that have already been announced and to continue to look for financing for future projects,” stated FWB’s Secretary-General Frédéric Delcor.
EIB Vice-President Pim van Ballekom commented, “We are signing a loan which is of symbolic importance to FWB and firmly focused on the future. High-quality educational facilities and modern, environmentally-friendly and sustainable infrastructure are essential to overcome the challenges of education, integration and ultimately employment of young people. This is decisive for the promotion of the knowledge economy, a key element for the future of your region and Europe in the global marketplace and a priority area of activity for the EIB as the bank of the European Union.”
Minister André Flahaut concluded, “It is important in times of economic downturn to invest, not only to restore growth but also, above all, to back future generations! I therefore feel it is vital to invest in infrastructure to cater for the growth in population and to provide young children, school pupils and researchers with optimum conditions.”
The European Investment Bank EIB (EIB) has undertaken this major financing operation in keeping with its priority policies, i.e. the knowledge economy, research and innovation, and climate change mitigation.
In the field of education, a crucial factor in the promotion of the knowledge economy, it has channelled EUR 36bn over the last 15 years into all types of projects supporting education in Europe and throughout the world.
In 2013, a EUR 300m loan was concluded for FWB’s schools, EUR 210m of which was signed with Belfius and CBC as the intermediaries for these funds and co-financiers. These lines of credit, used for projects that have been implemented or are progress, are still active.
In Belgium, the EIB is also assisting UCL (Université Catholique de Louvain) with its large-scale infrastructure and student housing projects in Louvain-La-Neuve and KUL (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) with the financing of its Health Sciences Campus (an education/research/healthcare partnership with university hospitals).
The European Investment Bank (EIB), whose shareholders are the Member States of the European Union (EU), is the EU’s long-term financing institution. It provides long-term finance in support of quality projects to contribute to the achievement of the EU’s key objectives. Its lending in Belgium amounted to EUR 2.1bn in 2015.
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The EIB and LBBW are providing PLN 184 million (approximately €42 million) each to finance the construction and operation of four wind farms in Poland’s Wielkopolskie region. The wind farms will be developed by German wpd AG in Jarocin Kozmin, Jarocin Wschod, Krotoszyn and Slupca Kolaczkowo near Poznan. They will have a total installed capacity of 102.5 MW, which enables them to power more than 60 000 households at peak times.
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