EBRD steps up support for Romanian SMEs

By Axel  Reiserer

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is stepping up its efforts to help Romania overcome the impact of the financial crisis with an €80 million loan to Banca Comerciala Romania (BCR) for on-lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The loan, to be provided in two equal tranches, will support local businesses which are still affected by the global financial crisis. As Romania returns towards a path of more robust growth, it is especially important to improve access to finance for Romanian companies.

BCR will provide financing to SMEs and medium-sized corporates in the form of investment loans, revolving credit facilities, loans for working capital, financing for leasing, factoring and other appropriate financing instruments, with a special focus on the agriculture and agribusiness sectors. Loans to companies will be available in euro or Romanian lei.

BCR is a leading bank which supports the Romanian SME sector to develop viable projects through competitive financing schemes, together with international partners. Since 2000 BCR has financed over 10,000 such projects (either from its own funds or from funds borrowed from international financial institutions), with a total co-financing value of over €1 billion.

Jean-Marc Peterschmitt, EBRD’s Managing Director for Central and South Eastern Europe, said: “We have been working with BCR closely for many years and are pleased to intensify our cooperation with this new project. This demonstrates the EBRD’s and BCR’s continued commitment to support the local economy, and the SME segment in particular. This new project will further support the development of the SME sector in Romania, which is vital for the economic recovery of the country.”

Tomas Spurny, CEO of BCR said: “Serving Romanian SMEs and developing their strength constitutes a cornerstone of BCR’s strategy. Our agreement with EBRD solidifies this long-term commitment and represents a vote of confidence from our valued long-term partner. I would further underline the fact that a significant part of this funding partnership consists of local currency, in line with our dedication to gradually eliminate potential vulnerabilities arising from FX lending. I trust we shall find sustainable opportunities to take full advantage of such attractive funding.”

The €80 million loan comes under the Joint IFI Action Plan for Growth in Central and South Eastern Europe launched in November 2012. The plan is a direct response to the continuing impact of eurozone problems on the economies of emerging Europe and includes total commitments of €30 billion over two years.

Banca Comercială Română (BCR), member of Erste Group, is the most important financial group in Romania, including the operations of a universal bank (retail, corporate and investment banking, treasury and capital markets), as well as the profile companies in the markets of leasing, asset management, private pensions, housing banks and mobile banking. BCR is the leading bank in Romania as measured by the value of its assets (over €16 billion), and also as measured by its number of clients, and is also the leading bank in savings and lending segments. BCR is the most valuable financial brand in Romania according to clients’ trust level and the number of customers for whom BCR is the main institution they are banking with.