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National Bank signs 640-mln-euro guarantee agreements with EIF

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and the National Bank of Greece (NBG) on Monday signed three guarantee agreements worth 640 million euros to improve access to finance for small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) in Greece.

These agreements benefit from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan.

Under the new InnovFin agreement, NBG will provide loans at favourable terms to innovative SMEs and small mid-caps for two years. EIF’s guarantee is provided under the initiative “EU InnovFin finance for Innovators” with the financial backing under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme. The EU’s support for innovative Greek companies under this transaction is expected to generate a portfolio of 100 million euros of loans.

The COSME transaction is an extension agreement, which will allow NBG to provide 500 million euros of loans to around 1,900 small businesses in Greece over three years. EIF will provide NBG with a guarantee under the COSME programme backed by the European Commission, allowing the bank to substantially reduce its collateral requirements, whist making it easier for companies to obtain loans.

In addition, EIF signed an EaSI microfinance guarantee transaction with NBG, supporting 40 million euros of loans to 3,400 micro-borrowers – very small companies – who have difficulties in accessing credit across the country. The EaSI Guarantee scheme, launched in June 2015 is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund.

European Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, responsible for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: “With today’s new financing agreements, the Juncker Plan continues to support Greek companies tangibly and help them grow. From very small businesses and start-ups to mid‑sized enterprises, more than 5,000 companies will benefit from loans amounting to EUR 640 million. This makes Greece the top beneficiary of the European Fund for Strategic Investments relative to GDP, and I hope to see many more projects that bring new jobs and sustainable growth in the months to come. The EU continues to support Greece’s economy, businesses and, in particular, young and innovative entrepreneurs”.

Speaking at the signing event in Athens, EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert, commented: “I am delighted that the EIF can support finance for Greek companies from the smallest micro‑enterprises to larger innovative businesses. Working with partners like the National Bank of Greece allows us to roll-out a broad range of financing solutions in support of this country’s aspiring entrepreneurs. Today’s EFSI signatures with NBG confirm EIF’s long-term commitment to Greek businesses”.

NBG Chief Executive Officer, Leonidas Fragkiadakis, said: “At NBG we are committed to supporting Greece’s economic recovery by providing financing to Greek Corporates, and particularly to SMEs which are the backbone and main growth driver of our economy. Our partnership with the EIF under the three programs we are signing today is an exemplary initiative which leverages European and local know-how to significantly expand the reach and accessibility of financing to SMEs”.

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