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First RSI guarantee agreement in Portugal for innovative businesses

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    Date: 17 April 2013

18/11/2013 - Please note that the guarantee made available to BPI under the RSI agreement with EIF has been increased and now reads EUR 160 million. For more information kindly refer to the Portuguese press release issued by BPI.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and BPI have 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.

This agreement allows BPI to provide innovative companies with access to a total of EUR 60 million of debt finance over the next two years and with support of the 50% guarantee offered by the EIF. This will make it easier for BPI to offer innovative companies additional financing at favourable conditions.

This is the first RSI agreement in Portugal and tenth in Europe, bringing the total loan finance available to innovative businesses across the EU to almost EUR 1bn.

The aim of the RSI Facility is to encourage banks to lend to SMEs and small mid-caps with fewer than 500 employees in need of investment financing and/or operating capital to support research, development and innovation activities. Banks are being selected by the EIF following a call for expression of interest for financial intermediaries across the Europe.

Commenting on the signature, in Lisbon, EIF Chief Executive, Richard Pelly said: “I am pleased to be signing our first RSI agreement in Portugal under the new Risk Sharing Instrument (RSI) in support of innovative small and medium sized enterprises at this critical time for the economy. Through the provision of a 50% guarantee, EIF will be helping BPI to quickly channel much needed finance efficiently to innovation driven businesses in the country.”

BPI Chief Executive, Fernando Ulrich said: “We are delighted to be the first financial institution in Portugal selected by the European Investment Fund to implement the RSI Facility in its pilot operation available - under an open public call - to all financial institutions across Europe. It is further evidence of BPI´s commitment and leading role in the support of innovative investment carried out by SMEs, a key priority for Portugal’s economic recovery. It is also further evidence of the long standing, and very effective, partnership established between the EIB and  BPI Groups in the provision of adequate funding to SME investments in Portugal”

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 6.5bn at end 2012. With investments in over 400 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 8bn in close to 250 operations at end 2012, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.

About BPI

BPI is the fourth  major Portuguese financial group with a market share of 10% in deposits and loans and above 15% in asset management. It is one of the leading banks in the support of the most performing SMEs in Portugal in the framework of the several incentive programs made available by the Portuguese State to mitigate the impact of the economic crisis. www.bancobpi.pt

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