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RSI guarantee agreement in Italy for innovative businesses

    Date: 07 December 2012


The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Cassa di Risparmio di Cento (CR Cento) have today signed a guarantee agreement to support lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) under the Risk Sharing Instrument (RSI), a joint initiative of the European Investment Bank Group and the European Commission.  

Thanks to the agreement, CR Cento will be able to offer up to EUR 40 million of new loans to innovative companies over the next two years, enabling SMEs, particularly in the Emilia Romagna region, to gain easier access to debt finance.  

The RSI facility aims to encourage banks to provide loans to SMEs and small mid-caps undertaking research, development or innovation, and seeking finance for investments and/or working capital. Banks are being selected by the EIF following a call for expression of interest for financial intermediaries across the Europe. 

Commenting on the signature, EIF Head of Guarantees, Securitisation & Microfinance Alessandro Tappi said: “I am pleased to be signing this agreement in Italy under the new Risk Sharing Instrument (RSI) in support of innovative small and medium sized enterprises. Through the provision of a 50% guarantee, EIF will be helping CR Cento to channel much needed finance efficiently to innovation driven businesses in the region.”  

Carlo  Alberto Roncarati, President of the Board of Cassa di Risparmio di Cento said: “Cassa  di  Risparmio  di Cento is extremely delighted to reach the signature phase of the Risk Sharing Instrument ("RSI") agreement with the EIF. This agreement will allow more innovative firms operating in our region to get access to relevant financial resources at convenient interest rates. The opportunity EIF and our bank are offering to the regional economy and productive system has a peculiar and even more relevant meaning as it takes place just few months after the dramatic earthquake that struck this geographical area always devoted to work and production. The agreement represents a strong sign of trust that the European financial institutions have towards Cassa di Risparmio di Cento,  the  first Italian bank to apply for the RSI guarantee and the sole small  bank  to  be  able  to  support the  local  economy  according  to  this agreement”. 


The Risk-Sharing Instrument (RSI) 

RSI is a pilot guarantee scheme which supports the financing of R&D and/or innovation driven SMEs and Small Mid-Caps. The RSI is a joint initiative of the EIF, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission. It is supported by the European Union under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) and uses EIF's risk-taking capacity. It is part of, and complements, the existing Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF), managed by the EIB.

Under this facility, the European Investment Fund (EIF) is, in return for a fee, providing guarantees to banks and leasing companies that lend to SMEs and Small Mid-Caps. The guarantee covers, upon default, 50% of the outstanding amount of each loan. Some 10 or so banks are expected to be involved in the pilot phase, allowing the RSI to reach up to 1000 beneficiaries with a total loan volume of up to €1.0 billion.

The call is open to financial or credit institutions, established and operating in the EU and/or countries associated to FP7, including, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, Switzerland, Israel, Turkey, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Faroe Islands and Moldova.

About the EIF

EIF's central mission is to support Europe's small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture capital and guarantees 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. The EIF total net commitments to private equity funds amounted to over EUR 6bn at end 2011. With investments in over 370 funds, the EIF is a leading player in European venture due to the scale and the scope of its investments, especially in high-tech and early-stage segments. The EIF guarantees loan portfolio totalled over EUR 4.4bn in close to 220 operations at end 2011, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.

About Cassa di Risparmio di Cento 

CRCento was founded in 1844 and started its banking activity in 1859. In December 1991 the Bank was incorporated as a joint stock company (“società per azioni”) under the civil code laws of Italy. The Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Cento remains the majority shareholder of CRCento, holding 66,97% of the share capital either directly or indirectly through Holding Cassa di Risparmio di Cento S.p.A., an intermediate holding company; others shareholders (more than 7,000, mainly CRCento’s retails customers) count for 33,1%. Board of Directors is composed of seven members, 6 of which named by Fondazione CR Cento and the other by minority shareholders. Total direct and indirect deposits from customers come to more than 3,8 billions and loans to customers are 2 billions at June 30th 2012. Capital and reserves amount to 187 millions; Tier 1 Ratio is 9,80% and Total Capital Ratio is 11,45%. The bank (426 employees) operates through a network of 48 branches, distributed in the three provinces as follows: Ferrara (21 branches), Bologna (17 branches) and Modena (10 branches). Mr. Carlo Alberto Roncarati is the President of the Board of Directors and Mr. Ivan Damiano is the Managing Director. 

Press contacts:

- EIF: David Yormesor, Tel.: +352 42 66 88 346, d.yormesor@eif.org
- Cassa di Risparmio di Cento: Alberto Lazzarini,  tel. +352 334 6299686  alberto.lazzarini@crcento.it -http://www.crcento.it/


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