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EBRD and UBCI support small firms in Tunisia

By Nibal Zgheib

€40 million MSME credit line to UBCI
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting small firms in Tunisia by providing a €40 million loan to UBCI, for on-lending to micro, small and medium sized-enterprises (MSMEs).
The EBRD’s credit line to UBCI will facilitate access to long-term funding for MSMEs. Such funding remains limited even though these firms are crucial for the sustainable development of the country’s real economy.
Marie-Alexandra Veilleux, Head of EBRD office in Tunisia, said: “MSMEs are the key driver of Tunisia’s economic transition and the main vehicle of job creation. Supporting their expansion is one of our core priorities in the country. Through this new financing, we foster the development of the private sector and make it more sustainable.”
Sylvia Gansser-Potts, EBRD Director, Financial Institutions, Southern and Eastern Mediterranean and Turkey, said: “We are delighted to initiate a relationship with UBCI, which will enable the EBRD to reach more MSMEs across Tunisia. The signing of this loan in December 2014 was a further step towards supporting the country’s financial sector; it is the fifth loan we have signed with a Tunisian financial institution in 2014, bringing the combined total to €110 million.”

Patrick Poupon, UBCI Managing Director, explained: “UBCI’s loan portfolio grew by over 13 per cent in the first three quarters of 2014, the highest increase seen among listed Tunisian banks. This performance illustrates the commitment of UBCI-Groupe BNP Paribas to the sustainable financing of the real economy, as well as our confidence in the wider economic outlook for Tunisia. We are therefore particularly happy to begin working with the EBRD by signing this credit line. The new facility will undoubtedly enlarge and diversify our financing capacity for MSMEs and thereby contribute to strengthening the domestic economy.”
Stéphen de Petiville, Head of ALM Treasury and Funding at BNP Paribas International Retail Banking, commented: “We already work with the EBRD in Poland, Turkey, Ukraine and Kosovo. We are happy to extend this cooperation to one of the North African countries in which we work, particularly Tunisia, a country with strong potential for economic development. It’s a further step towards helping UBCI develop the local SME sector.”
Since September 2012, when it began operations in Tunisia, the EBRD has committed over €210 million to financing 20 projects across various sectors. The Bank has also facilitated direct technical assistance through its Small Business Support programme, which has benefited approximately 130 Tunisian SMEs to date.”
About UBCI: Established in 1961, UBCI, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas Group, has a network of 111 branches and 123 ATMs based in the major economic centres of Tunisia. UBCI offers a wide range of retail products and services to its customers, including daily banking operations, consumer, housing and commercial finance, bank insurance and asset management solutions. UBCI business services for corporate and institutional customers are managed by specialist teams with strong expertise in the fields of cash management, commercial and investment banking, treasury and FX operations, trade finance, financial engineering and leasing. Since 2002 UBCI has been certified ISO 9001 for its foreign trade activities and since 2012 for its bank card operations. Special attention is given to Corporate and Social Responsibility in line with BNP Paribas Group policy.
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About BNP Paribas: BNP Paribas has a presence in 75 countries with more than 180,000 employees, including 140,000 in Europe. It ranks highly in its three core activities: retail banking, investment solutions and corporate & investment banking. In Europe, the Group has four domestic markets (Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg) and BNP Paribas Personal Finance is the leader in consumer lending. BNP Paribas is rolling out its integrated retail banking model across Mediterranean basin countries, in Turkey, in Eastern Europe and a large network in the western part of the United States. In its corporate and investment banking and investment solutions activities, BNP Paribas also enjoys top positions in Europe, a strong presence in the Americas and solid and fast-growing businesses in Asia-Pacific.
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