EIB doubles funding to businesses

European Investment Bank (EIB) plans to double funds provided to small- and medium-size businesses in Greece to 1.2 billion euros in the coming year to boost funding for cash-thirsty small firms in the wake of the global credit crunch. EIB vice president Plutarchos Sakellaris said in Athens yesterday the lender is also aiming to double the number of banks it works with, from four currently, to help channel the loan funds into the local economy. «The 1.2 billion euros is for Greek businesses investing in Greece. We will also supply finance for Greek businesses investing in neighboring countries,» he said, without giving further details. EIB has already pumped a large chunk of a 700-million-euro program earmarked for Greece into smaller enterprises that are struggling to meet financing needs as banks tighten credit conditions, fearing an increase in bad debts. Sakellaris also said the EIB is putting together an action plan, along with the European Commission, that will be presented at the December 2 Ecofin meeting.