ECONOMY

EU bank boosts financing of SMEs

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will increase the funds provided to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Greece by 180 million euros to 680 million euros, it announced yesterday. EIB, the European Union’s lending bank, signed a 180-million-euro partnership agreement with lenders ATEbank and Marfin Egnatia Bank in order to help get more money to SMEs. One hundred million euros will go to state-controlled ATEbank with the remaining amount going to Marfin Egnatia Bank to finance investments in industry, commercial services and tourism, as well as infrastructure projects. The EIB vice president, Plutarchos Sakellaris, said partner banks match the amount offered by EIB with their own resources, which means that a total of 1.3 billion euros will flow into the Greek economy. In April, the EIB signed a 500-million-euro agreement with Alpha and Eurobank. Demetrios Miliakos, the governor of ATEbank, said it has provided 2 billion euros of finance to 12,000 SMEs in the first quarter of the year «which, in the majority, were not its clients before» in a sign the lender has been increasing its market share during the crisis. «This year… our target is to provide a minimum of 500 million euros to support SMEs, double last year’s levels,» he said.