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  • A synthetic securitisation operation on a portfolio of corporate loans with a value of around €1 billion has been finalised.
  • The operation is being supported by the European Guarantee Fund (EGF) and is part of the €540 billion package approved by the European Union to respond to the economic impact of COVID-19.

Banca Popolare di Sondrio (BPS) and the EIB Group — which includes the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) — have concluded a synthetic securitisation operation on a portfolio of loans granted by BPS to corporate counterparties with a value of around €1 billion.

In particular, the operation saw the EIB Group grant a guarantee on the €48 million junior tranche of the synthetic securitisation from the European Guarantee Fund (EGF), a financial instrument and key component of the €540 billion package of measures approved by the European Union in 2020 and specifically intended to tackle the economic difficulties and production slowdowns caused by the pandemic.

The operation enables BPS — backed by UniCredit AG as arranger and Chiomenti as legal advisor — to further meet the working capital and investment needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing them with low-interest loans for more than €400 million in new financing over the next 18 months. Over 2 000 Italian SMEs are set to benefit.

Through this initiative, the EIB Group is pursuing its strategic goal of supporting European SMEs in the aftermath of the pandemic, facilitating access to credit and encouraging the intervention of financial institutions that can provide medium to long-term financing to these companies.

EIB Vice-President Gelsomina Vigliotti said: “The consequences of the pandemic, the energy crisis and inflation are severely affecting small and medium-sized enterprises. Meeting their financing needs is one of the EIB Group’s key priorities and the operation signed with Banca Popolare di Sondrio confirms the EIB's commitment to boosting investment and the competitiveness of our SMEs on the ground.”

“This new, European Guarantee Fund-backed agreement enables us to strengthen our relationship with Banca Popolare di Sondrio, aiming to facilitate access to credit for Italian SMEs and thereby helping them to grow and thrive,” added EIF Chief Executive Alain Godard.

Banca Popolare di Sondrio Managing Director Mario Alberto Pedranzini said: “This agreement strengthens our longstanding partnership with the EIB Group, giving it new impetus. We are proud of this partnership, particularly at this delicate time for Italy and Europe. This operation reaffirms our formal and practical commitment to supporting SMEs and their growth. They are the engine of the Italian economy and our most important area of action, as we have always been a bank with strong local connections.”

Background information

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It provides long-term financing for sound investments that contribute to EU policy. The Bank finances projects in four priority areas: infrastructure, innovation, climate and environment, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Between 2019 and 2021, the EIB Group provided more than €36 billion in financing for projects in Italy.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance. The EIF is also active in supporting climate fund investments and infrastructure with a strong focus on environmental sustainability. In this role, the EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth and employment.

Banca Popolare di Sondrio (BPS) — founded in Valtellina in 1871 — was one of Italy's first popular banks to apply the cooperative credit model. Over time, its gradual expansion and regional presence enabled it to extend its activities to the entire country, while still maintaining a strong link with its area of origin. Banca Popolare di Sondrio boasts a long history of growth, values and culture, based on mutual trust and nourished by a passion for work, constant attention to customers and the evolution of their needs. On the strength of its solid founding principles that have inspired a balanced and profitable business model, the bank looks to the future with confidence and works with determination to continue to carry out its activities effectively, to the benefit of customers and all stakeholders.