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Press Release

EU loan guarantee agreement for innovative SMEs in France

Brussels, 24 June 2013

A new €250 million EU loan guarantee agreement for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) was signed today between the European Investment Fund and Banques Populaires-Caisses d’Épargne (BPCE Group) in France.

The agreement uses the Risk Sharing Instrument (RSI) launched by the European Commission and European Investment Bank Group to ease access to finance for innovative SMEs and small mid-caps.

It was the first RSI agreement in France and largest RSI deal in Europe so far, bringing the total loan finance available to innovative businesses across the EU under this initiative to well above EUR 1bn with 12 guarantees signed in 10 countries.

Welcoming the agreement, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "This agreement is an excellent example of how we can support innovative companies in gaining better access to risk finance. Financing research and innovation and helping those SMEs who take risks to bring ideas to the market will mean more jobs and growth in France and across Europe."

The EIF and BPCE also announced a second guarantee agreement under the European Union's Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP). This will help BPCE to generate a total portfolio of loans worth €1.8bn to around 50,000 SMEs.

Commenting on the signatures in Paris, EIF Chief Executive Richard Pelly said: “I am pleased to be signing our first RSI agreement in France and largest in Europe under the new Risk Sharing Instrument (RSI) under a FP7 programme in support of innovative small and medium sized enterprises. Extending our relationship with our long-term partner BPCE under the CIP programme which through the SOCAMAs have already supported some 50 000 businesses via the CIP programme, will ensure that much needed finance will be quickly channelled to innovation driven businesses across the country.”

BPCE President, François Pérol said: “The Banques Populaires are offering a unique type of finance to businesses in France in order to help strengthen their competitiveness through innovation”.

Further information:

The aim of the RSI Facility is to encourage banks to lend to SMEs and small mid-caps with fewer than 500 employees in need of investment financing and/or operating capital to support research, development and innovation activities. It aims to encourage banks to provide loans and leases of between €25,000 and €7.5 million. Banks are being selected by the EIF following a call for expression of interest for financial intermediaries across Europe. Some 25 or so banks are expected to be involved in the RSI pilot phase, allowing the RSI to support a total loan volume of up to €2.5 billion.

RSI is supported by the European Union under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) and uses EIF's risk-taking capacity. It is part of, and complements, the existing Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF), managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB). More details about RSI are available on: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/guarantees/RSI/index.htm

Press contacts:

Michael Jennings, Tel. +322 2963388 Twitter: @ECSpokesScience

EIF: David Yormesor Tel. +352 42 66 88 346