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  • The EIB has signed two loans with UniCredit in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia totalling up to €100 million to boost support for small and medium-sized businesses for faster COVID-19 recovery.
  • This investment contributes to the strengthening of the private sector, supporting jobs, liquidity and expansion of business operations.
  • The new loans signed today bring the total amount of credit lines provided so far by the EIB for SMEs’ COVID-19 recovery under Team Europe’s financial support for the Western Balkans to €475 million.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and UniCredit A.D. Banja Luka (UBBL) have signed an agreement to provide up to €50 million financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and Mid-Caps in Bosnia and Herzegovina to help them meet the challenge of recovering from the COVID-19 crisis. The loan will help companies to overcome the financial constraints brought about by the pandemic, maintaining liquidity and jobs. This is the third credit line provided by the EIB in support of companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the Team Europe financial package for COVID-19 recovery of the Western Balkans. With the new loan signed today, the total EIB financing for COVID-19 recovery provided to SMEs in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the start of the pandemic will reach €95 million.

UBBL will on-lend the funds to SMEs and mid-caps in Bosnia and Herzegovina affected by the COVID-19 crisis with more favourable and affordable conditions. The companies will be able to use the EIB funds to finance their liquidity, working capital and medium to long-term investment needs.

EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova, who responsible for the Bank’s activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said: “The EIB continues to support growth and development of Bosnia and Herzegovina with this significant investment signed today. We are dedicated to creating the conditions needed for a faster COVID-19 recovery and the transition of regional economy towards a more resilient, green, sustainable model, able to compete successfully on the global markets. We are glad to have partners like UniCredit Bank Banja Luka that are able to extend our financial support directly to companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus saving jobs and incomes for thousands of people.

Teodora Petkova, Head of Eastern Europe at UniCredit stated: “We continue to be committed to providing ongoing support for the development of local businesses and economies through these initiatives in order to accelerate the COVID-19 recovery. This represents another concrete step towards ensuring cash flow continuity especially for SMEs, which represent one of key pillars of the economies of the Western Balkans, allowing them to finance working capital and investment programmes. At UniCredit, we work closely with our subsidiaries in all countries to make decisive and tangible actions in being part of the solution, ensuring continuity for both production and the supply chain in the economies of Eastern Europe”.

Gordan Pehar, President of the Management Board at UniCredit Bank A.D. Banja Luka, said: “Our very effective cooperation with the EIB up until now has laid the groundwork for this new partnership, which I am very pleased to sign. UniCredit Bank Banja Luka has previously successfully placed a total of €45 million of funds with favourable conditions on our market. This new agreement allows us to keep supporting the community and continue showing our commitment to strengthening the economy of Republika Srpska. We look forward to start placing these new funds with our existing and new clients as a way to grow together.”

Increased access to finance for SMEs in the Western Balkans

The EIB has a well-established relationship with UniCredit, which has implemented several EIB credit lines to date, totalling more than €150 million for financing SMEs and mid-caps in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. The latest cooperation, signed in 2020, is a social impact loan for SMEs, established for the first time in Serbia. This innovative type of financing is designed for companies that make a positive impact on their community by providing employment and professional development to people from vulnerable social groups. The EIB plans to roll out this product in the other countries in the region, promoting inclusive employment, women entrepreneurship and jobs for youth.

Background information

About UniCredit

UniCredit is a simple successful pan-European commercial bank, with a fully plugged in CIB, delivering a unique Italy, Germany, Central Europe and Eastern Europe network to its extensive client franchise. UniCredit offers both local and international expertise to its clients, providing them with unparalleled access to leading banks in its 13 core markets through its European banking network: Italy, Germany, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Leveraging on an international network of representative offices and branches, UniCredit serves clients in another 16 countries worldwide.

About the EIB in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The EU bank has been active in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1977. To date, it has invested €3.1 billion, mostly to the transport sector and small and medium enterprises. For more information regarding the EIB’s projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, please refer to:

https://www.eib.org/en/projects/regions/enlargement/the-western-balkans/bosnia-herzegovina/index.htm

About the EIB in the Western Balkans

The EIB is one of the leading international financiers in the Western Balkans. Since 2008, the Bank has financed projects totalling €8.6 billion in the region. Besides continuing its support for the reconstruction and upgrading of public infrastructure, since 2010 the EIB has expanded into many new areas, such as healthcare, research and development, education and SMEs. For detailed information on EIB activities in the Western Balkans, please visit the following link: www.eib.org/en/publications/the-eib-in-the-western-balkans

About Team Europe and the COVID-19 response in the Western Balkans

As part of #TeamEurope strategy, the EU's global response to COVID-19, the EIB Group has rapidly mobilised €5.2 billion outside the EU, accelerating financing and targeted technical assistance. For the Western Balkan countries, specifically, the EIB has prepared an immediate support package of €1.7 billion, primarily for SMEs and the healthcare sector. The total EU financial support package for the Western Balkans amounts to more than €3.3 billion. For more information: https://www.eib.org/en/press/all/2020-111-eib-group-to-contribute-eur1-7-billion-to-the-eu-s-covid-19-response-package-for-the-western-balkans