BUSINESS

National Bank signs loan deals with EIF

GEORGE GEORGIOPOULOS

TAGS: Banking

The European Investment Fund (EIF) on Monday signed three loan guarantee agreements with Greece’s National Bank (NBG) worth 640 million euros to provide funding to small and medium-sized businesses to support the Greek economy’s recovery.

The EIF is part of the European Investment Bank (EIB) group which aims to support Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance.

“Our exposure to Greece is now about 1 billion euros,” said EIF Chief Executive Pier Luigi Gilibert. “This has successfully catalyzed 3.5 billion euros in additional funding.”

Greece, slowly emerging from a deep financial crisis, is expected to exit its third international bailout in August. Its economy is gradually recovering. Gross domestic product grew 1.4 percent last year.

Gilibert said the EIF supports innovative companies active in sectors including artificial intelligence, fintech, and big data. Its loan guarantees are risk-sharing instruments, enabling banks on the ground to choose eligible firms.

Under the so-called InnovFin agreement, NBG will provide loans with favorable terms to innovative SMEs for two years. The EIF’s support for innovative Greek companies is expected to generate a portfolio of 100 million euros of loans.

The second agreement, COSME, will allow NBG to provide 500 million euros of loans to around 1,900 small businesses in Greece over three years. [Reuters]

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