The European Investment Bank Group (EIB) today confirmed its largest ever support for small business investment in Greece at the opening of its new Athens office. Under a new lending initiative with Piraeus Bank, supported by both the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund, EUR 700 million of new lending will support investment by companies across Greece. The EIB Group is the world's largest international public bank and is owned by the 28 EU member states.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and EIB President Werner Hoyer formally opened the EIB Group's new Athens office, alongside Ministers for the Economy and Development, Infrastructure and Energy, and EIB Vice President Jonathan Taylor. More than 200 business, public sector, political and diplomatic representatives attended the ceremony.
Speaking at the opening event Finance Minister and EIB Governor Euclid Tsakalotos, welcomed the increased engagement of the EIB to support new private and public sector investment across Greece.
EIB President Werner Hoyer used the occasion to confirm that EIB Group financing in Greece was on target to reach a record EUR 2 billion in 2017 and that EUR 5 billion of new investment in the country would be backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments since the start of the Investment Plan for Europe.
Today marks the start of the next stage in the strong partnership between the European Investment Bank Group and Greece. Close cooperation between the European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund with Greek authorities and clients has allowed the EIB Group to respond effectively to the economic crisis in Greece in recent years. The EU Bank's new Athens office will ensure still closer cooperation with the private and public sector. I am confident that the firm commitment of both the EIB and the EIF to support investment in Greece, working with new clients and expanding existing relationships, will contribute to improving economic activity in this country, said Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank.
Record new SME financing in partnership with Piraeus Bank
Prior to the office opening the EIB Group agreed its largest ever support for SME investment in Greece with Piraeus Bank, the leading bank in Greece. This follows a EUR 1 billion SME credit line launched with four Greek banks last December.
Demonstrating the EIB Group's reinvigorated support for investment by Greek companies the new partnership with Piraeus Bank will enable more than EUR 700 million of additional lending to local firms.
Mr. Christos Megalou, CEO of Piraeus Bank, stressed that "The new era in EIB's presence in Greece is connected with a new agreement with Piraeus Bank concerning the EIB Group's largest ever support for SME investment in Greece. This agreement is a strong proof of the EIB's commitment to support the financing of Greek SMEs and Small Businesses through Piraeus Bank, the largest bank in Greece. Piraeus has built a lasting relationship with supranational organizations as the EIB Group throughout the recent years, and is fully committed to support the financing of the Greek economy on its way back to sustainable growth".
"This new cooperation with Piraeus Bank, supported by the Investment Plan for Europe, covers the whole country and will allow companies involved in tourism, manufacturing and services to expand. This record new SME initiative follows the EUR 1 billion programme launched last year in cooperation with Piraeus and other leading Greek banks." added Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for lending operations in Greece.
The innovative transaction represents the first covered bond issuance by Piraeus Bank since the financial crisis and marks the first ever investment by the EIB in covered bonds in Greece. The EIB will provide EUR 350m, under the Investment Plan for Europe, and the EIF will provide an additional EUR 50m that provides longer-term funding for Piraeus Bank customers.
EUR 5 billion of investment in Greece unlocked by Investment Plan for Europe
Since the first operations in Greece under the Investment Plan for Europe in April 2016 more than EUR 1.5 billion of new financing has been approved that will mobilize more than EUR 5 billion of overall investment across the country.
EIB Group financing under the Juncker Plan initiative includes transformational projects to improve regional airports, telecom infrastructure, renewable energy, food production and financing for small and medium sized companies with a number of leading Greek banks. Greece is one of only seven countries, alongside the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, to have secured over EUR 1 billion of EFSI backed EIB Group financing.
New office inaugurated by Finance Minister
The new central Athens office on Leoforos Vasilissis Sofias is located in a landmark building, in premises left empty after the economic crisis. The office provides a new home for the EIB's dedicated Investment Team for Greece.
Since its formation in December 2015 the EIB Investment Team for Greece, led by EIB Deputy Director General Nicholas Jennett has helped to increase business volume, to intensify the relationships with the Greek government and to ensure that Greece benefits from new EFSI backed investment opportunities.
The total investment of the EIB Group (the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund) in Greece in 2016 was EUR 1.63 billion. EIB financing for small businesses accounted for 75%, with an additional 22% for innovation and 3% for infrastructure projects. Over the past five years (2012-2016), the EIB has invested EUR 6.4 billion in Greece.