The European Investment Fund (EIF) and UniCredit have signed an agreement to increase the InnovFin SME guarantee aimed at improving access to finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps in eight countries. This new agreement will allow UniCredit to offer, both via its banks and leasing entities, additional financing worth EUR 340 million to innovative companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Serbia. Together with the initially signed portfolio of EUR 160 million, SMEs and mid-caps across the above countries will have access to a total of half a billion euro.
This transaction benefits from the support of Horizon 2020, the EU's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), at the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe.
The banks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia will benefit from the support of a guarantee provided by EIF and backed under Horizon 2020, the EU's Research and Innovation programme, while the guarantee agreements with the banks in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania will be backed by EFSI.
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "The geographical reach of the European Fund for Strategic Investments is of paramount importance and under today's agreement with UniCredit, six Central-Eastern EU countries will benefit. SMEs in those Member States - as well as in two neighbouring countries - can now apply to UniCredit for loans with the EU budget guarantee to start up and scale up their businesses."
EIF Chief Executive Pier Luigi Gilibert said: "With the increase to this umbrella agreements announced today, more than 500 innovative SMEs will benefit from new financing options delivered by UniCredit in eight different countries through its 13 subsidiaries. UniCredit will leverage on its past experience under InnovFin, strong focus on SME and small mid-caps, and an extensive network of branches across the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries to target high-growth potential companies whilst fostering innovation and entrepreneurship."
Carlo Vivaldi, Head of CEE Division of UniCredit, said: "Thanks to the increase of this umbrella facility, we can further facilitate the development of innovative SMEs across our countries allowing easier access to finance and boosting local economies. This confirms our commitment in serving our clients in the Central and Eastern region."
The transaction reflects the EU's commitment to rapidly launch concrete initiatives aiming at accelerating lending and guarantee transactions capable of boosting jobs and growth in the EU.
UniCredit Group: Media Relations
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