The European Investment Bank (EIB) launched today its EUR 1bn "Loans for SMEs and MidCaps" credit line to Greek banks. The loans will be used by Greek banks for on-lending to SMEs and MidCaps active in the agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, services and other sectors. Within the context of EIB's "Skills and Jobs - Investing for Youth" initiative, additional financial advantages will be offered to companies promoting youth employment.

On this occasion, EIB President Werner Hoyer stated: "I am very pleased to be in Athens today for the inauguration of EIB's ambitious new credit line for SMEs and MidCaps. With the signature of the first loan agreements under it, we mark the continuation of EIB's long-standing partnership with Greek banks for the support of Greece's real economy.”

The first agreements with Alpha Bank, Eurobank, National Bank of Greece and Piraeus Bank for a total amount of EUR 400m, equally split between the four banks, were signed in a public ceremony in Athens attended by the Governor of the Bank of Greece Yiannis Stournaras. EIB President Werner Hoyer signed on behalf of the EIB. On behalf of the Greek banks, Demetrios Mantzounis, CEO of Alpha Bank, Fokion Karavias, CEO of Eurobank, Leonidas Fragkiadakis, CEO of National Bank of Greece and George Poulopoulos, Deputy CEO of Piraeus Bank, signed the agreements.

“The four loan agreements signed today with the four systemic banks in Greece bear particular significance as they contribute, and with a sizable amount, towards one of EIB's top priorities, namely the improvement of access to finance for SMEs, which are the backbone of the country’s economy,” President Hoyer said.

Alpha Bank’s Managing Director - CEO Demetrios P. Mantzounis, stated: “The participation of Alpha Bank in the new ‘Loans for SMEs and MidCaps’ credit line, launched by the European Investment Bank, demonstrates our consistent support of the Greek entrepreneurship. This facility, amidst challenging times, provides new prospects towards further development of our business customers and a useful tool for the enhancement of their liquidity. We are confident that, through our long-standing and valuable partnership with the EIB, the role of the private sector will be further strengthened while domestic investment projects and innovative initiatives will be encouraged.”

Fokion Karavias, CEO of Eurobank, said: “EIB and Eurobank have a long-standing partnership. Working together since 2004, we have channeled funds totaling EUR 840 million to more than 3,000 businesses we serve. We are particularly keen on contributing to the success of EIB’s “Jobs for Youth” initiative, which addresses Greece’s challenge to prevent further brain drain by creating employment opportunities for young jobseekers.”

Leonidas Fragkiadakis, CEO of National Bank of Greece, stated:  “At a point in time when economic recovery is critical for the uplift of economic activity and the reduction of unemployment, we have the duty to take initiatives to foster economic growth. Today’s signing is a case in point. Solutions that leverage European and local know-how can significantly expand the reach and accessibility of financing to SMEs and Mid-caps. The fact that the programme incentivizes youth employment is an additional invaluable characteristic of the initiative, as, for growth to be sustainable, we need to keep Greek talent here and make sure that when growth comes, this not just includes, but is based on and driven by young people. The participation of all four systemic banks in this programme marks our common goal of financing the economy and fostering liquidity in the market. We at NBG look forward to working with SMEs and Mid-caps for the rapid and meaningful utilization of the credit facility.”

George Poulopoulos, Deputy CEO of Piraeus Bank, said: “Greek businesses and entrepreneurship have always been a core focus for Piraeus Bank. We are proud that SMEs and MidCap companies, a vital pillar for the Greek economy, are a key segment of our business. We welcome the new EIB credit line, which we believe is critical for many important investment projects. Piraeus Bank considers as its key responsibility to support sustainable growth in the Greek economy. We are confident about the investment opportunities in our country and the prospects of Greek SMEs and MidCaps.”

The agreements signed today incorporate EIB’s "Jobs for Youth" initiative, offering competitive interest rates to enterprises that promote youth employment. The agreements will contribute actively and decisively to the strengthening of Greek entrepreneurs, the creation of sustainable development and the enhancement of youth employment.

“We are particularly pleased that part of the EIB loans is expected to be on-lent under our “Jobs for Youth” initiative to companies that support youth employment; this is yet another area we are very keen to have a lasting impact on.The EIB remains committed to supporting private sector growth and investing in young people. These are among the principal objectives of the EU Bank’s engagement in Greece. The combined efforts of the EIB in Greece and the four systemic Greek banks will help companies across the country to expand business activity and create much needed new jobs, especially for talented young people who represent the country’s future,” added EIB President Hoyer.

The EIB launched the "Jobs for Youth" initiative, the Bank’s first ever dedicated lending programme to specifically support young people, in July 2013. Complementing youth employment policies at European and national level the programme finances vocational training, student and apprentice mobility, and aims to address the shortage of jobs for young people in smaller companies.