EBRD investments hit record €1.1 billion in Q1

By Anthony Williams

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The EBRD has responded to the impact of the global economic crisis on the countries of eastern Europe with a strong rise in investments in the first quarter of this year.

The Bank’s financing totalled a record €1.1 billion in the first three months, compared with €678 million in the same period of 2008, a rise of 64 percent.

As part of a package of measures to alleviate the effects of the crisis, the EBRD has already said it plans to invest €7 billion this year, compared with €5.1 billion in 2008.

“The EBRD is equipped, willing and ready to stand by eastern Europe during this crisis and well into the future. Our investments so far this year underscore that commitment,” said EBRD President Thomas Mirow. "Q1 is a strong result that puts us on track towards achieving our ambitious target.”

The overall increase in EBRD investments is aimed at ensuring the availability of finance to help fund the goals of transition and economic transformation at a time when other sources of capital have all but dried up.

The Bank has placed a specific priority on supporting the financial sector, with the aim of maintaining the flow of credits to real economies, especially to small and medium-sized enterprises.

In February, it joined forces with the World Bank Group and the European Investment Bank to announce a €24.5 billion programme of investments to the financial sector for SME lending over the next two years.

Most recently the EBRD provided a credit line of €100 million credit line to Romania’s BCR bank for on-lending to small and medium-sized enterprises and a $150 million loan to Russia’s VTB24 bank to stimulate lending to Russia’s small businesses.

Outside the financial sector, in March the EBRD provided €150 million towards an overall €300 million credit to Romanian oil company Petrom S.A. that will help set new environmental and health and safety standards for the industry.

The Bank continued its investments to increase energy efficiency with a €120 million loan to Russian electricity generating company OGK-5 to fund the construction of a new energy-efficient unit at a power plant in southern Russia.

In addition, the EBRD has set up a new €250 million facility to help existing Bank clients weather the impact of the global economic crisis. Ukrainian sugar group ASTARTA was the first company to tap this new funding, with a $20 million loan.

Increasing its support for important cross-border trade, the EBRD has also doubled the guarantees it offers via its Trade Facilitation Programme to €1.5 billion.

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