The European Investment Bank – and by extension the European Union budget – is among the biggest losers from the streamlining plan for troubled cold cuts producer Creta Farms.
In May 2016, the EIB lent 15 million euros to the Cretan enterprise, making it the first Greek private corporation to receive funding from the European lender in the context of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, known as the “Juncker plan.”
According to the company’s debt restructuring plan published last week, the new investor, Impala Hellas, is undertaking the repayment of just 383,000 euros of that 15 million, which is less than 3 percent. The EIB will be able to claim the remaining 14.6 million euros through the liquidation of Creta Farms’ non-transferred assets – a process that is not very promising for the European lender as the absence of any material collateral puts it last in line in the creditors’ pecking order.
As an EIB representative explained to Kathimerini, “any losses the EIB incurs from this transaction will be absorbed by the European guarantee granted to the bank from the European Fund for Strategic Investments.”
In practice, however, this transaction has been classified as equity investment, so 50 percent of the loss will be covered by the guarantee and the other half must be borne by the EIB itself. The EIB source adds the loan “was always considered high-risk.”
European Commission spokeswoman Marta Wieczorek told Kathimerini the idea behind the Juncker plan was “to allow the EIB to finance more innovative and often riskier ventures.” The question is why such a high-risk transaction had its guarantee approved.