The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed two loan agreements with UniCredit in Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina with a total value of up to €100mn to increase support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and accelerate their recovery from the coronacrisis.
According to the development bank, the investment “contributes to the strengthening of the private sector, supporting jobs, liquidity and expansion of business operations”.
It brings the total amount of credit lines provided by the EIB to help SMEs’ COVID-19 recovery under Team Europe’s financial support for the Western Balkans to €475mn.
In Serbia, the EIB and UniCredit Bank Srbija A.D. (UCBS) have signed an agreement to provide up to €50mn for SMEs and mid-caps, helping them to overcome the financial constraints resulting from the pandemic, maintaining liquidity and jobs. UCBS will on-lend the funds to SMEs and mid-caps, which can use the EIB funds to finance their liquidity, working capital and medium to long-term investment needs, the press release said.
The credit line is the fourth provided by the EIB to support Serbian companies under the Team Europe financial package for COVID-19 recovery in the Western Balkans.
“SMEs are the backbone of the economy and this is why we finance this area both in the form of grants but also through credits and credit guarantees. We are gladly partnering with the banking sector in this regard. All the EU’s efforts to support innovative and technology-oriented SMEs as well as other sectors these businesses work in will in the end serve the modernisation of Serbia and boost the economy, in particular to help businesses affected by the COVID crisis,” said Mateja Norcjc Stamcar, chargee d’affaires of the EU delegation to Serbia.
“We continue to be committed to providing ongoing support for the development of local businesses and economies through these initiatives in order to accelerate the COVID-19 recovery. This represents another concrete step towards ensuring cash flow continuity, especially for SMEs, which represent one of key pillars of the economies of the Western Balkans, allowing them to finance working capital and investment programmes,” commented Teodora Petkova, head of Eastern Europe at UniCredit.
Meanwhile, in Bosnia the EIB and UniCredit A.D. Banja Luka (UBBL) signed an agreement to provide up to €50mn for small and medium enterprises SMEs and mid-caps, bringing the total EIB financing for COVID-19 recovery provided to SMEs in the country since the start of the pandemic to €95mn.
“The EIB continues to support growth and development of Bosnia & Herzegovina with this significant investment signed today,” said EIB vice-president Lilyana Pavlova. “We are dedicated to creating the conditions needed for a faster COVID-19 recovery and the transition of regional economy towards a more resilient, green, sustainable model, able to compete successfully on the global markets. We are glad to have partners like UniCredit Bank Banja Luka that are able to extend our financial support directly to companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus saving jobs and incomes for thousands of people.”
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