The EBRD is lending Allianz Bank Bulgaria (ABB) a second €5 million loan to support the development of local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). The loan comes under the EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility and is being complemented by a grant from the European Commission including technical assistance. This loan builds on the successful implementation of the first EU/EBRD SME credit line with ABB signed in 2006, and brings EBRD’s SME lending in Bulgaria to a total of EUR 192.6 million.
Аllianz Bank Bulgaria, majority-owned by Germany’s Allianz Group, is a universal bank offering a full range of banking services through a network of more than 100 branches and representative offices in the country. ABB has identified the SME sector as one of the key areas for its future growth. The loan is intended to enable ABB to provide mid-term financing of up to €125,000 per client to SMEs, mainly for investment purposes. The facility will allow ABB to develop an improved SME product offering, attract new SME clients and extend the maturity of the funding provided.
James Hyslop, EBRD country director for Bulgaria, said the loan will support the Bulgarian private small business sector by facilitating access to finance. The SME sector remains a key driver for the vitality of the local economy. In recognition of this, EBRD will continue to support SMEs, especially during the current global financial crisis, and welcomes ABB’s strategy to strengthen its focus on this sector, he added.
In recent years ABB has been focusing on developing its client base in the SME and retail sector. Already experienced in working with the EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility, Allianz Bank Bulgaria fosters dozens of successful small investment projects since 2006 with the financial support of EBRD. ABB welcomes the opportunity to finance new clients’ projects even nowadays when markets are relatively cautious, says Dorcho Ilchev, Executive Director of ABB.
The EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility, a joint programme of the European Commission and the EBRD, supports the development and growth of SMEs by facilitating their access to finance. Under the programme, the Bank will make available funding of €1.35 billion, of which €1.2 million has been committed to signed projects to date. The EC has contributed €180 million in grant financing since the launch of the programme in 1999.
The EBRD is the largest investor in Bulgaria with over €1.7 billion committed to projects across the country. Working with its many partners, the Bank has mobilised more than €6.2 billion for projects in Bulgaria.