Within the framework of the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) ‘Loans for SMEs’ programme, KBC, CBC and the EIB have concluded a loan agreement worth €300m to make funding available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Belgium. KBC and CBC will act as intermediaries, using their close-knit network of bank branches to make the EIB funds available as early as this summer.
The EIB loan for SMEs takes the form of a credit line that KBC and CBC will then lend to small businesses with fewer than 250 employees across a wide range of economic sectors eligible for EIB financing. The projects, to be eligible for this specific type of funding must meet certain pre-set criteria among which is being carried out and located in the EU and aimed at growth.
The new EIB lending formula for SMEs is also designed to be more flexible and more transparent, particularly in terms of the information provided to businesses. It will ensure that the final beneficiaries – Belgian SMEs – benefit from the advantages of EIB funding, mainly in the form of lower interest rates, and they will be explicitly informed of this.
Jan Vanhevel, president of the executive committee of KBC Group, said: “At a time when our economy is showing the first signs of recovery from an unprecedented financial/economic crisis, the like of which has never been witnessed before, it is essential that an integrated bancassurance group like KBC takes full responsibility for fuelling economic growth in its home markets. I am therefore delighted that we are in a position to enjoy the support of such a reputable institution as the EIB and that we can use these funds to supplement our other financing instruments.’
Since the launch 18 months ago of the ‘Loans for SMEs’ programme, the EIB has made more than €18bn available to SMEs, of which €7.4bn was allocated last year to at least 50,000 SMEs in the EU.
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