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European Union and the French State unlock €715 million for French businesses

    Date: 08 December 2020

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in France can now finance their growth and business development plans and digital transformation via loans with more flexible terms, as the result of a new agreement with the European Investment Fund (EIF) and Bpifrance, the French Public Investment Bank.

The loan guarantees are provided by the Digitalisation initiative under the Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) programme, launched by the European Commission to improve access to finance for SMEs.

Thanks to COSME support under the COSME Digitalisation Pilot, Bpifrance would launch a new guarantee product (France Num Loan Guarantee) dedicated to supporting the digital transformation of French SMEs, with a strong focus on very small enterprises (maximum loan amount of €50,000) and a guarantee rate of 80%. The guarantee provided by Bpifrance will support access to finance without the obligation on the SME to provide any additional hard collateral.

EIF’s participation in this transaction was made possible by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe of the European Commission.

Alain Godard, EIF Chief Executive, said: “This partnership will help small businesses finance development and growth plans, whilst bringing digital solutions to their businesses. The agreement between the EIF and Bpifrance, guaranteed by the European Commission, brings €715 million in more affordable financing to French companies and unlocks new opportunities for businesses to increase their digital footprint. We are particularly pleased to be able to do our part in helping French businesses as they seek to recover from the covid-19 crisis and transition to a more digital economy.”

Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market added: ‘’Europe’s SMEs need our support to master the digital transformation and fully integrate into the European as well as global value chains. This is at the heart of the EU SME strategy. I welcome the France Num initiative which will empower French SMEs in digital transition, thanks to the reinforcement by the COSME programme and in the future, to the European Recovery and Resilience Facility and InvestEU. ”

Nicolas Dufourcq, Chief Executive of Bpifrance said: “The digitization of small French businesses is particularly crucial to adapt to the conditions created by the Covid-19 crisis and to rebound. We are therefore pleased to set up the France Num Guarantee, alongside the EIF, The European Commission and the French State. This new product, deployed by our banking partners, will help SME’s to accelerate their transformation by providing immediate financing to strengthen their online presence, digitalize relations with its partners, even improve teleworking…”

Thomas Courbe, Director for Enterprises said: “With the new France Num guarantee, banks will be able to offer SMEs support they need to become more digital. Too many companies relinquish plans to become these days due to financial reasons. Removing this constraint, the France Num guarantee will contribute to a the emergency plan for the digitalisation of businesses launched on 10th November, to accelerate these projects which need to come to fruition”.

The COSME Digitalisation Pilot supports the digitalisation of SMEs in Europe by guaranteeing 70% of eligible loans provided by banks. Operated by Bpifrance in France, it is available to all French banks.

Background information:

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 by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops both 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.

Bpifrance is the French national investment bank: it finances businesses – at every stage of their development – through loans, guarantees, equity investments and export insurances. Bpifrance also provides extra financial services (training, consultancy) to help entrepreneurs meet their challenges (innovation, export…). For more information, please visit: www.bpifrance.fr and presse.bpifrance.fr - Follow us on Twitter: @Bpifrance - @BpifrancePresse.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. It provides first-loss guarantees enabling the EIB to invest in more and often riskier projects. The projects and agreements approved for financing under the EFSI are expected to mobilise EUR 535.4 billion in investment, supporting over 1.4 million start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises across the European Union.

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 €2.3 billion. At least 60% of the programme is devoted to improving 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. COSME Equity Facility for Growth helps provide risk capital to SMEs mainly in the expansion and growth stages. Businesses can contact selected financial institutions in their country to access EU financing: http://www.access2finance.eu/.

France Num is the French Government’s initiative supporting the digital transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is coordinated by the Directorate General for Enterprise. With nearly 60 partners and more than 2,000 digital transformation experts throughout France (known as "activators"), France Num works to encourage an increased adoption and use of digital technology by all 1.6 million small businesses managers in France who need it, in order to enhance and develop priorities such as customer relationship, business development, promotion of products and services, cost-cutting strategies, etc. By highlighting best business practices, useful resources and digital maturity tests, France Num demonstrates the benefits of technology for the development of the French economy.

Press contacts:

European Investment Bank Group:
David Yormesor, d.yormesor@eib.org, tel.: +352 43 79 81346 / Mobile:  +352 621 554 578
Website: www.eib.org/press - Press Office: +352 4379 21000 – press@eib.org

European Commission:
Sonya Gospodinova, sonya.gospodinova@ec.europa.eu; tel.: +32 460 76 69 53

Sarah Madani, sarah.madani@bpifrance.fr; tel.: +33 1 42 47 96 89

France Num
General Directorate for Enterprises:
Pauline Manier, pauline.manier@finances.gouv.fr; tel.: +33 1 79 84 31 94


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