The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Aegon Asset Management have signed a guarantee agreement supporting a EUR 120 million portfolio of loans to innovative Dutch companies
The agreement was signed under the European Commission’s InnovFin initiative, backed by the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020. It was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) - the central pillar of the European Commission's Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. This agreement is the first InnovFin SME Guarantee deal in the Netherlands.
Thanks to this EU support, Aegon Asset Management, together with Aegon Custody representing NLII Achtergestelde Leningen Fonds, will provide subordinated loans (loans which will be repaid after all other debt is repaid) to innovative SMEs and small mid-caps at favourable terms. Today's EUR 120 million transaction is expected to benefit around 85 businesses, helping them to grow and improve their capital flows.
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "The deal signed today brings exciting opportunities for small Dutch companies with innovative ideas they want to make a reality. With this fresh injection of EUR 120 million into the Dutch SME eco-system, we are helping our small businesses to grow and create jobs."
Speaking at the signature event in the Hague, EIF Deputy Chief Executive, Roger Havenith, commented: “Aegon Asset Management’s financing activity supports EIF's mission and strategy to enhance innovative SMEs and small mid-caps' access to finance. We are delighted to be signing this InnovFin SME guarantee agreement in the Netherlands. This new signature will help Aegon Asset Management to expand its activities and offer more support to innovative companies, converting excellence in science and research into viable businesses.”
Commenting on the operation, Sarah Russell, Aegon Asset Management’s CEO said: "We are very glad to be able to play our role in supporting SMEs in getting the funding they need to be able to achieve their growth plans as it is in line with our ambition to improve and promote Europe’s competitiveness and the wellbeing of its citizens. Through this initiative we are also able to broaden our offering for our clients to include an opportunity to invest in an investment category that is not easily accessible: SMEs. This way we help our clients to diversify their investment portfolio and achieve their financial obligations.”
The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) has had an important role in the development of the ALF. State secretary Mona Keijzer of EZK said: “SMEs need adequate financing in order to grow. So I’m pleased that this agreement between the ALF and the EIF will give more businesses easier access to finance. They can then invest in - for example - a new production line, up-to-date equipment or expanding operations abroad. That’s a crucial impetus for the further growth of these SMEs and for our economic growth in general.”
The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment. More information on EIF's work under EFSI is available here.
About Aegon Asset Management
Aegon Asset Management is a global, active investment manager. We use our investment management expertise to help people achieve a lifetime of financial security. Investors worldwide entrust us to manage approximately EUR 318 billion on their behalf. Positioned for success in our chosen markets (the UK, Continental Europe, North America and Asia), our specialist teams provide high-quality investment solutions across asset classes. Through the Aegon Group our heritage stretches back to 1844, meaning we understand the importance of long-term relationships, robust risk management and sustainable outperformance. A long and successful history of partnership with our proprietary insurance accounts has enabled us to establish experienced investment teams, a solid asset base and proven long-term track records.
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About the Juncker Plan
The Investment Plan for Europe focuses on breaking down barriers to investment, providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects and making smart use of new and existing financial resources. More information on EIF's work under EFSI is available here. The EFSI is already seeing results. The projects and agreements approved for financing under EFSI so far are expected to mobilise more than EUR 274 billion in total investments across 28 Member States and to support around 600 000 SMEs. Based on this success, on 14 September 2016 the European Commission proposed extending the Plan, increasing its capacity and duration and reinforcing its strong points. The European Parliament and Member States adopted the "EFSI 2.0" Regulation in December 2017. The latest figures on EFSI by sector and country can be found here.
The InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility is established under the "EU InnovFin Finance for Innovators" initiative developed under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for research and Innovation. It provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between EUR 25,000 and EUR 7.5 million in order to improve access to loan finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises and small mid-caps (up to 499 employees). The facility is managed by EIF and is rolled out through financial intermediaries – banks and other financial institutions – in EU Member States and Associated Countries. Under this facility, financial intermediaries are guaranteed by the EU and EIF against a proportion of their losses incurred on the debt financing covered under the facility.
12 April 2018