EBRD provides €60 million loan to Zagrebačka banka

By Axel  Reiserer

The EBRD is stepping up its support in Croatia for small and medium-sized enterprises and energy efficiency improvements with a €60 million loan to Zagrebačka Banka d.d., of which €40 million will be extended to private sector companies for investments to improve their competitiveness and €20 million will support the financing of private and municipal energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Small and medium-sized private enterprises represent the backbone of the Croatian economy and access to finance remains a significant challenge for many of them. This represents an obstacle to the expansion of existing operations and the development of new market opportunities, which the EBRD financing aims to overcome.

The energy efficiency credit line will demonstrate the benefits of energy conservation to a wide range of borrowers, including clients in the municipal sector that today have limited access to such financing.

EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to strengthen Croatia’s real economy and we see this as a good example for our commitment to the country. Long-lasting and thorough reforms have earned the country its deserved place in the European Union. Now the task is to turn this membership into a success for which a thriving private sector is crucial.”

CEO of Zagrebačka banka Mr. Franjo Luković said: "Zagrebačka banka is pleased to be in a position to work together with EBRD in supporting the domestic real economy, in particular in supporting small and medium-sized companies, the most vibrant segment of the economy and crucial to boosting employment and creating innovation with sustainability and profitability. We continuously strive to increase our lending to small and medium-sized companies and in this context EBRD support and funds are most welcomed. The new credit line to support the financing of private and municipal energy efficiency and renewable energy projects represents an excellent step in the right direction towards energy conservation, which is particularly important from an environmental and an economic point of view."

The funds are being provided under the international financial institutions’ joint Action Plan agreed between the EBRD, the World Bank Group and the European Investment Bank in November 2012. The Action Plan, developed within the context of the ”Vienna Initiative”, includes more than €30 billion of joint commitments for the period 2013-2014.

To date the EBRD has signed some 150 projects in Croatia for a total amount of more than €2.75 billion. In its new strategy, approved on 25 June, the Bank underlines its continued support for Croatia after the country’s EU accession through enhancing the competitiveness of local companies. The EBRD also remains prepared to invest in projects to restructure and modernise the country’s infrastructure and to enhance the financial and operational efficiency of municipal water and wastewater services.