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Investment Plan for Europe: EIF and bpifrance sign first agreement for innovative French companies

    Date: 12 May 2015
The European Investment Fund (EIF), the risk financing arm of the European Investment Bank group (EIB group) and the French public investment bank bpifrance, a subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts, have signed a guarantee agreement to increase lending to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps in France. This is thanks to the support of the EU budget guarantee which will underpin the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), through which the Investment Plan for Europe will be deployed by the European Commission and the EIB Group.

This is the first transaction approved by EIF which will benefit from an EU guarantee under EFSI. It comes before EFSI is formally established, reflecting  the EIB Group’s commitment to respond swiftly to calls from Member States, the European Commission and the European Parliament for a rapid launch of concrete initiatives under EFSI, accelerating lending and guarantee transactions capable of boosting jobs and growth in the EU.

Under the agreement, bpifrance will provide finance to innovative companies in France for a total of EUR 420 million over the next two years, allowing EIF to provide a new financing boost for highly innovative businesses under the Horizon 2020 initiative InnovFin, the EU's Finance for Innovators. Bpifrance has recently launched a product called "Prêt d'Amorçage investissement" ("PAi") to address the needs of start-up companies. It will combine this product with the EU guarantee at a 40% guarantee rate. The EU guarantee will also enable bpifrance to continue to support its own product for innovative SMEs and small mid-caps in France (“Prêt pour l’innovation” - PPI), offering better financing conditions.

Commenting on the signature, Jyrki Katainen, European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “The Investment Plan for Europe is a top priority of the European Commission. It aims at mobilising EUR 315 billion of investments in the EU by 2018. I am very pleased that today, the very first deal under the Investment Plan is signed. Thanks to the combined support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and of Horizon 2020, significant additional finance will be provided to innovative SMEs, start-ups and small mid-caps in France. This paves the way for more jobs, growth and innovation in Europe.”

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "In addition to the EUR 315 billion of the Investment Plan, which includes support to innovation and SMEs, Horizon 2020's InnovFin instruments will raise EUR 48 billion of investment in research and innovation. The guarantee agreement between EIF and bpifrance is a perfect illustration of how EFSI and InnovFin can complement and reinforce each other: helping innovative companies to invest, grow and create jobs in France and the European Union.”

EIB Group Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle said: “This transaction is the first in Europe under the Investment Plan for Europe. The EIB Group has honoured its commitment: to be operational even before EFSI is officially launched. Innovation and enterprise support are essential to the growth and competitiveness of the French economy. By providing guarantees against the inherent risk in this type of financing, the EIB Group aims to act as a key support for France’s innovative firms and start-ups both nationally and in the heart of the regions – a strike force that will be all the more powerful thanks to the support of its partners!”

EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “I am pleased to be signing the first EFSI agreement in Europe here in Paris with bpifrance. In line with the Investment Plan for Europe, the EU guarantee will allow us to support more innovative companies under the InnovFin programme in a shorter time than previously planned and boost Europe’s competitiveness.”

Bpifrance, Chief Executive, Nicolas Dufourcq said: “The innovation and start-up loans will be available to French businesses this week. The ability to implement the Juncker plan quickly demonstrates the role that bpifrance is playing to support innovation and confirms its role as a partner of choice for the European institutions.”

About EIF

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. EIF’s total net commitments to private equity funds amounted to over EUR 8.8 billion at end 2014. With investments in over 500 funds, 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. EIF’s guarantees loan portfolio totalled over EUR 5.6 billion in over 350 operations at end 2014, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.

About bpifrance

Bpifrance, a subsidiary of the French state and the Caisse des Dépôts and the entrepreneurs’ trusted partner, finances businesses from the seed phase to IPO, through loans, guarantees and equity investments. Bpifrance also provides operational services and strong support for innovation, export, and external growth in partnership with Ubifrance and Coface. Bpifrance offers to businesses a large range of financing opportunities at each key step of their development, including offers adapted to regional specificities. With its 42 regional offices (90% of decisions are made locally) Bpifrance represents a strategic tool for economic competitiveness dedicated to entrepreneurs. Bpifrance acts as a back-up for initiatives driven by the French State and the Regions to tackle 3 goals:

  • Contribute to SME’s growth
  • Preparing tomorrow’s competitiveness
  • Contributing to the development of a positive entrepreneur ecosystem.

With Bpifrance, businesses benefit from a powerful, efficient and close representative, to answer all their needs in terms of financing, innovation and investment.

More info @ www.bpifrance.fr – Follow us : @bpifrance

About EFSI

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is an initiative to boost jobs and growth in the EU. It is based on a close partnership between the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. The Fund will mobilise at least EUR 315 billion in private and public investment across the EU. It will benefit from a guarantee from the EU budget of EUR 16 billion. The EIB Group, which contributes a further EUR 5 billion to EFSI in cash, has been urged to accelerate lending and guarantee transactions which could benefit from the EFSI EU budget guarantee even before the Fund is formally established. EFSI will especially support strategic investments, such as in broadband and energy networks, as well as smaller companies with fewer than 3000 employees, with a particular focus on SMEs. The Fund will be complemented by the European Investment Advisory Hub to help with project identification, preparation and development across the Union. Finally, a European Investment Project Directory will improve investors' knowledge of existing and future projects. The InnovFin agreement does not preclude the final decision on EFSI.

About InnovFin SME Guarantee

InnovFin SME Guarantee provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between EUR 25 000 and EUR 7.5 million to improve access to loan finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises and small midcaps (up to 499 employees). It is implemented by  EIF, and rolled out through financial intermediaries (banks and other financial institutions). Financial intermediaries are guaranteed by EIF against a proportion of their losses incurred on the debt financing covered.

About Horizon 2020

On 1 January 2014, the European Union launched a new research and innovation funding programme called Horizon 2020. Over the next seven years almost EUR80 billion will be invested in research and innovation projects to support Europe’s economic competitiveness and extend the frontiers of human knowledge. The EU research budget is focused mainly on improving everyday life in areas like health, the environment, transport, food and energy. Research partnerships with the pharmaceutical, aerospace, car and electronics industries also encourage private-sector investment in support of future growth and high-skilled job creation. "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators", the new generation of EU financial instruments and advisory services was developed under Horizon 2020 to help innovative firms access finance more easily. "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators" will help to inject up to EUR 48 billion in investments in Research and Innovation across Europe.

Press contacts:

EIF: David Yormesor
Tel.: +352 42 66 88 346, e-mail: d.yormesor@eif.org

EIB: Anne-Cécile Auguin
Tel.: +352 621361948, e-mail: a.auguin@eib.org

Groupe Caisse des Dépôts : Alexis Nugues
Tel. 01 58 50 40 00, e-mail : alexis.nugues@caissedesdepots.fr

Bpifrance: Nathalie Police  
tél. + 01 41 79 95 26  courriel : nathalie.police@bpifrance.fr


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