The European Investment Bank (EIB) and OP Corporate Bank today signed a EUR 150m guarantee agreement to support medium-sized companies in Finland. OP is part of Finland's leading financial services group, OP Financial Group. It is the first time that such a transaction is signed with a Finnish bank. The agreement was made possible by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, which was launched by the EIB Group and the European Commission to boost the competitiveness of the European economy.
Although Finland is one of the most developed and competitive economies in Europe, medium-sized companies, especially innovative businesses, still consider financing as an obstacle to development and growth in some situations. The EIB support for OP targets this market need by improving their long-term access to finance, to stimulate investment and employment. The guarantee agreement allows OP to create a new loan portfolio of EUR 300m for companies with a minimum turnover of EUR 30 m. The EIB will take up to 50% of the risk of this new portfolio.
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "The Investment Plan for Europe has proven incredibly successful when it comes to providing financing to small and medium-sized companies in Europe. In relative terms, Finnish SMEs have benefitted less from EFSI financing than SMEs in many other Member States. Therefore, I'm very happy that thanks to this new €150 million agreement with OP Bank, medium-sized Finnish businesses will benefit from the Investment Plan, and as a result, be able to expand their operations and create new jobs across the country."
“Medium-sized companies are the backbone of the Finnish economy and a key driver for economic growth, innovation, employment and social integration,” said EIB Vice-President Alexander Stubb, responsible for EIB operations in Northern European countries. “We are proud of this agreement with OP which is great news for these companies. It will become considerably easier for them to get financial support for new projects and growth.”
"OP is determined in its efforts to foster economic growth and employment by financing Finnish companies and their growth. With the midcap guarantee agreement, we will give medium-sized companies, too, the opportunity to receive EIB's guarantee. Unlike in our previous guarantee programmes, the guarantor will in this programme process each project separately. We hope that EIB's guarantee will create more investment opportunities for many medium-sized Finnish companies. We are delighted to be able to start offering our customers support for financing growth, together with EIB", said Jouko Pölönen, Executive Vice President, Banking, OP.
OP Financial Group is Finland's largest financial services group whose mission is to create sustainable prosperity, security and wellbeing for its owner-customers and in its operating region by means of its strong capital base and efficiency. OP Financial Group consists of about 170 member cooperative banks, its central cooperative OP Cooperative, and the latter's subsidiaries and affiliates. The Group has a staff of 12,000 and 1.8 million owner-customers and 4.4 million customers.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. In 2016 alone, the Bank made available nearly EUR 2.2 billion in loans for Finnish projects.
About The Investment Plan for Europe
The Investment Plan for Europe focuses on strengthening European investments to create jobs and growth. It does so by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects. The Investment Plan is already showing results.
The projects and agreements approved for financing under the EFSI so far are expected to mobilise EUR 241 billion in investments and support around 460,000 SMEs across all 28 Member States. On 13 September, the European Parliament and Member States came to an agreement in principle on the extension and strengthening of the EFSI. This agreement extends the EFSI's duration as well as increases its financial capacity.
6 November 2017