>@Shutterstock
©Shutterstock
  • The EIB has signed two loans with UniCredit in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina 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 Bank Srbija A.D. (UCBS) have signed an agreement to provide up to €50 million for the financing of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and Mid-Caps in Serbia 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 fourth credit line provided so far by the EIB in support of Serbian companies under the Team Europe financial package for COVID-19 recovery in the Western Balkans. With the new loan signed today, the total EIB financing for COVID-19 recovery provided to Serbian SMEs since the start of the pandemic will reach €140 million.

UCBS will on-lend the funds to SMEs and mid-caps in Serbia 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 Serbia, said: “The EIB continues to support Serbia’s growth and development with this significant investment signed today. We are dedicated to creating the conditions needed for a faster COVID-19 recovery and the transition of Serbian 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 that are able to extend our financial support directly to companies in Serbia, 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.”

Feza Tan, Chairwoman of the Management Board and CEO of UniCredit Bank Serbia, said: “Our long-term successful partnership with the EIB expands with this new loan agreement. We are proud to continue working together with the EIB in supporting the local economy. Through both UniCredit Bank and UniCredit Leasing Serbia we have so far utilised more than €95 million of EIB funding. We look forward to channelling these funds to local businesses. Being one of the leading banks in the market, we have the responsibility and strength to continue to actively support the recovery and development of the country.”

Mateja Norčič Štamcar, chargee d’affaires of the EU Delegation to Serbia said: “SMEs are the backbone of the economy and this is why we finance this area both in the form of grants but also through credits and credit guarantees. We are gladly partnering with the banking sector in this regard. All the EU’s efforts to support innovative and technology-oriented SMEs as well as other sectors these businesses work in will in the end serve the modernisation of Serbia and boost the economy, in particular to help businesses affected by the COVID crisis.”

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 Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 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.

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 Serbia

The EIB has been active in Serbia since 1977, providing finance to support key infrastructure projects, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, industry, services and local authorities. Since the start of its activities in the country, a total of over €6 billion of investments in SMEs and the revitalisation of transportation, education, healthcare and utility infrastructure have been made.

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.

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