The European Investment Fund (EIF) and the National Bank of Greece S.A. (NBG) have signed the first COSME guarantee agreement in Greece, benefiting from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe.
The EU support will allow NBG to provide EUR 100 million to over 350 small businesses in Greece. EIF will provide NBG with a direct guarantee under the COSME programme with financial backing from the European Commission allowing the bank to launch three new loan products with substantially reduced collateral requirements and provide support to SMEs that would otherwise not have received financing.
Commenting on the signature, EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert, said: “I am pleased that the first COSME EFSI guarantee agreement in Greece will help the National Bank of Greece to develop new finance products for companies and help over 350 SMEs to grow and create jobs. The EU support allows SMEs to borrow with reduced collateral requirements. In addition to the EUR 150 million of transactions which we signed in Greece earlier this year, this new guarantee will strengthen EIF’s support for SMEs in the country.”
Speaking at the signature ceremony in Athens, Chief Spokesperson of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, said: “This EFSI financing agreement signed by EIF and National Bank of Greece today means new loans at good rates for over 350 Greek SMEs. This important deal – the second one to be signed in Greece – was made possible by the support of the Investment Plan for Europe. It is yet more proof that the Juncker Plan is working and reaching the people and businesses who need support the most. The SME financing part of the Investment Plan has shown such strong results in the first year that the Commission aims to scale it up as well as extending the lifetime of the EFSI.”
NBG Chief Executive Officer, Leonidas Fragkiadakis, stated: “The National Bank of Greece has long been at the forefront in supporting the Greek economy, aiming at fostering growth and increasing employment. Our longstanding cooperation with EIF has already yielded significant results in a period of unprecedented challenges for the Greek economy. This new agreement underlines the commitment of NBG to meet the needs of the business environment and the economy. Our involvement serves to address the core challenges the economy faces, and includes providing immediate and effective financial support to SMEs, while also encouraging investments that enable firms to innovate and grow by securing attractive and competitive terms of financing. This action is one of many to follow in the months to come in the context of NBG’s support to SMEs in Greece.”
The deal signed today in Greece reflects the EU’s commitment to rapidly launch concrete initiatives under the EFSI, accelerating lending and guaranteeing transactions capable of boosting jobs and growth in the EU. It is the second SME agreement under the EFSI to be signed in Greece.
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 (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment. More information on EIF’s work under the EFSI is available here.
About the Investment Plan for Europe
The Investment Plan focuses on removing obstacles to investment, providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects and making smarter use of new and existing financial resources. The Investment Plan is already showing results. The European Investment Bank (EIB) estimates that by June 2016, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) triggered more than EUR 106.8 billion of investment in Europe.
COSME is the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) running from 2014 to 2020 with a total budget of EUR 2.3 billion. At least 60% of the programme will be devoted to easing access to finance for SMEs in Europe, with two financial instruments. The COSME Loan Guarantee Facility supports guarantees and counter-guarantees to financial institutions to help them provide more loans and lease finance to SMEs. This facility also includes securitisation of SME debt finance portfolios. The COSME programme also invests through the COSME Equity Facility for Growth in equity funds that provide risk capital to SMEs mainly in the expansion and growth stages. The COSME programme builds on the success of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013) which helped to mobilise almost EUR 21 billion of loans and EUR 3 billion of venture capital to over 383,000 SMEs in Europe.
Businesses can contact selected financial institutions in their country to access EU financing: http://www.access2finance.eu/.