EBRD and UniCredit join forces to support businesses across eastern Europe

By Anthony Williams
@ebrdtony

The EBRD and the UniCredit Group, one of the largest European banking groups, are joining forces to boost the flow of credits to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across central and eastern Europe.
 
The EBRD is making investments worth a total of €432.4 million in UniCredit subsidiaries across eight eastern European countries, as part of a joint effort to tackle the impact of the global economic crisis on the region. The aim is to provide medium and long-term debt and equity financing through UniCredit subsidiaries in support of SMEs, lease finance and energy efficiency projects.
 
UniCredit is the largest banking group in the central and eastern European region, with over 4,000 branches in 19 countries. The group has invested around €10 billion of equity in central and eastern Europe and has around €85 billion of total customers loans in the region. Beside its own funding programs to its subsidiaries, it cooperates with international institutions including the EBRD in order to ensure continuing support to the local economies during these challenging times.
 
“As the single biggest financial investor and the largest banking group in central and eastern Europe, the EBRD and UniCredit have a common purpose and special responsibility to this region to ensure the continuing flow of lending to the real economies in times of crisis and scarce external funding,” said EBRD President Thomas Mirow.
 
“Thanks to its widespread and strong commercial banking presence in the region, UniCredit is a natural partner of the EBRD in the joint effort to sustain the local economies. Being both long-term investors in the region, together we can tackle the downturn and prepare the region for a future rebound”, said UniCredit CEO Alessandro Profumo.
 
The EBRD investment is part of the joint pledge by the EBRD, the World Bank Group and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to provide over €24 billion in support of the banking sectors in the region and to fund lending to businesses hit by the global crisis.
The International Financial Institutions (IFIs) are working with key banking groups active in eastern Europe to deliver a rapid response to the financing requirements of individual subsidiaries and complementing the funding plans of the parents. This project with UniCredit is expected to be followed by similar investments in the eastern subsidiaries of other banking groups.

In response to the crisis, the EBRD has increased its planned investments in the financial sector by 50 percent to €3 billion this year. It has also announced a doubling of its funding to support important cross border commerce via its Trade Facilitation Programme.
 
In the first quarter of this year, the EBRD had made investments of €1.1 billion, a rise of 64 percent from the same period in 2008. Total investments of €7 billion are expected this year, up over 30 percent from 2008.
 
The individual components of the €432.4 million investment facility are the following:
 
UniCredit (UC) Bank Hungary
SME lending
€50 million
Bulbank ( Bulgaria )
SME lending
€50 million
Zagrebacka Banka ( Croatia )
SME lending
€50 million
UC Bank Serbia
SME lending
€30 million
UC Bank Bosnia
SME lending
€30 million
UC Leasing Serbia
Leasing
€15 million
UC Leasing Bosnia
Leasing
€15 million
UC Leasing Ukraine
Leasing
$25 million
ATF (Kazakhstan)
SME lending
$70 million
ATF ( Kazakhstan )
Energy Efficiency
$30 million
Ukrsotsbank (Ukraine)
Tier 2 capital
$100 million
ATFBank-Kyrgyzstan
SME lending
$20 million
 
About UniCredit:
 
UniCredit is a major international financial institution with strong roots in 22 European countries as well as representative offices in 27 other markets, with over 10,200 branches, approximately 174,000 employees at 31 December 2008. In the CEE region UniCredit operates the largest international banking network with over 4,000 branches and outlets in 19 countries. For further information, visit: www.unicreditgroup.eu