The European Investment Fund (EIF), Artigiancredito Toscano (ACT) and five guaranteeing institutions (‘confidis’), have signed an umbrella agreement in Italy under the European Commission’s COSME programme. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe.
Thanks to the financial backing of the European Commission, EIF is providing a counter-guarantee that will enable ACT, together with the five ‘confidis’, to provide EUR 360 million worth of guarantees to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the north and centre of Italy over the next three years. Over 10 000 Italian SMEs are expected to access financing that would otherwise not have been available to them.
The parties to this agreement comprises of ACT as the coordinating entity, along with the following ‘confidis’: Italia Comfidi Scrl (IC), FidiToscana Spa (FT), Neafidi SC (NF), Cooperfidi Italia SC (CI) and Artigianfidi Vicenza SC (AV).
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Italian SMEs are already benefiting from the opportunities offered by the EFSI. I am proud that, with today's agreement, we will see 10 000 more benefit from the improved financing solutions that will allow them to innovate, grow and create jobs.”
Commenting on the signature, EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert, said: “Thanks to this umbrella agreement, EIF and the six participating ‘confidis’ will be able to reach out to over 10 000 Italian SMEs in the north and the centre of Italy. With EIF’s support, each of the ‘confidis’ will increase their own volume of guarantees. This will enable SMEs currently excluded from traditional financing to gain access to additional guarantees.”
ACT commented: “This umbrella agreement is what we were looking for. It will allow for many of our associated SMEs in Tuscany to improve their access to banks’ financial services through the guarantees provided by EIF. With EIF, we share the same goals, contributing together to the consolidation and the development of the system of small businesses in the territory of Tuscany.”
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 EFSI is available here.
About the Investment Plan for Europe
The Investment Plan focuses on strengthening European investments to create jobs and growth. It does so by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects. The Investment Plan is already showing results. The projects and agreements approved for financing under the EFSI so far are expected to mobilise over EUR 164 billion in total investments across 28 Member States and to support more than 388 000 SMEs. On 14 September 2016, the European Commission proposed extending EFSI by increasing its firepower and duration as well as reinforcing its strengths. Find the latest EFSI figures by sector and by country here. For more info, see the FAQs.
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 more than EUR 3 billion of venture capital to over 384 000 SMEs in Europe.
Businesses can contact selected financial institutions in their country to access EU financing: http://www.access2finance.eu/.
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