EUR 150 million for supporting SMEs in Greece: Co-operation of the European Investment Bank with Piraeus Bank

Athens/Luxembourg — European Investment Bank and Piraeus Bank combine their forces for the first time to finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for small and medium infrastructure projects realised by individuals or public bodies (including local authorities) as well as beneficiaries of any size, investing in sectors of economy, knowledge and protection of the environment in Greece. The EIB grants EUR 150 million to Piraeus Bank, who shall in turn dispose of in segmented credits, to final beneficiaries realizing investments, selected on the basis of the criteria set by the EIB.

Piraeus Bank, with extensive experience in the field of SMEs in Greece, shall root capitals granted by the EIB through this Global Loan, mainly to SMEs in the sector of tourism, industry, commerce and related services, as well as in small and medium infrastructure, environmental protection and energy-saving projects, throughout the country. The co-operation of EIB and Piraeus Bank is expected to benefit the financed enterprises, on the one hand because it offers the possibility of providing longer term loans and, on the other hand, due to the attractive financing terms of the Bank.

During the ceremony of signing of the relevant contract, in the presence of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Piraeus Bank, Mr. Michalis Sallas, the Vice-President of the EIB Mr. Plutarchos Sakellaris declared the following: "I am pleased by the fact that one of the first financing contracts that I sign after my appointment to the EIB is the first co-operation of EIB with Piraeus Bank. SMEs are local enterprises that need to have direct access to financing partners, such as Piraeus Bank, who dispose of high quality local and sector information and are in the position to follow the changes in demand and properly assess the investments proposals submitted."

Global Loan granted by the EIB combines benefits offered by the perfect access to global financial markets — where the necessary resources of financing activity are drawn –, the local network as well as the know-how the local partner – banks dispose of.

In response to a request formulated by the Ministers of Economy of the European Union at the Ecofin council in Nice (September 12-13, 2008), the EIB shall modernize and significantly increase its financing toward small and medium enterprises in 2008 and 2009, in order to contribute to the reduction of the impact resulted from the current credit crisis.

The ministers agreed that the Bank must grant SMEs loans reaching 15 billion euro within the two-year period, within the framework of a total package amounting to EUR 30 billion. This height of granting represents an increase of about 50% toward 2007, when EIB granted EUR 5.2 billion for SMEs through the banking network with which it cooperates in the EU.

During his stay in Athens, Mr. Plutarchos Sakellaris signed as well with the President of Attiko Metro S.A., Mr. Yiorgos Yiannis, financing contracts amounting to EUR 500 million, for the 2nd Phase of extension of the Athens metro (including planning, construction and commissioning of 6 extensions of lines 2 and 3) and the design, construction, testing and commissioning of the first phase of Thessaloniki metro.

Informative data
The European Investment Bank (EIB) — the bank promoting the aims of the European Union and finances European projects — supports investments contributing to modernization of the EU member states economies as well as the neighbouring countries. In 2007, the EIB granted financing amounting to EUR 47.8 billion. The financing to 27 EU member states amounted to EUR 41.4 billion and represented 87% of the total granting. In order to finance its activities, the EIB raised from international financial markets a total of EUR 55 billion, through 236 loan bonds in 23 currencies. The EIB belongs to the member states of the European Union and constitutes the larger supranational issuer of bonds in the world, with credit standing rated at "ΑΑΑ". The Bank was created by the Treaty of Rome together with the other EU bodies and this year celebrates its 50th anniversary from its foundation. The Bank mainly aims at the following:

  • Financial and social cohesion within the EU;
  • Support of SMEs;
  • Promotion of environmental sustainability;
  • Transforming the EU economy in an economy based on knowledge (Lisbon Project – Initiative "Innovation 2010" by the EIB);
  • Development of transport and energy trans-European networks;
  • Secure, sustainable and competitive energy supply.

In 2007, EIB financing raised in total to EUR 47.8 billion out of which EUR 0.8 billion was granted to Greece. The EIB has granted to Greece loans for transport projects, for SMEs financing as well as (for the first time in Greece) for projects of the local authorities organisations (Municipalities of Athens and Kozani).

There are approximately 23 million SMEs in the European Union, which represent over 99% of the total of the enterprises and contribute by 80% to occupation in certain industry sectors. In 2007, the Group's activity to the benefit of small and medium enterprises has benefited more than 162,000 SMEs. Financing has focused mainly in innovative enterprises with high development potential, in small sized investments by SMEs in the renewable energy sources and in small enterprises. The EIB provided support to SMEs through credit lines amounting to approximately 5 billion euro, granted to intermediating financial organisations with which it co-operated throughout the European Union.