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Dec 03, 2007 14:48 EEST
SOFIA (Bulgaria), December 3 (SeeNews) – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Monday said it lent 10 million euro ($14.6 million) to Raiffeisen Leasing Bulgaria to support small and medium–sized enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union newcomer.
“As the country’s economy grows it is important that small and medium size entrepreneurs gain sufficient access to finance to meet their demands,” James Hyslop, EBRD country director for Bulgaria, said in a statement.
The money will be used for extending leases to local companies to help them acquire equipment for the expansion of their businesses.
Raiffeisen Leasing Bulgaria, part of Raiffeisen International, received a first 10 million euro loan from EBRD in 2006. Since then the Bulgarian leasing arm has extended 560 leases totalling 14.2 million euro to SMEs across the country, which joined the European Union in January.
“Through its network of 14 branches Raiffeisen Leasing Bulgaria aims to further expand its position, serving local SMEs,” Dobromir Dobrev, Managing Director of Raiffeisen Leasing Bulgaria, said in the same statement.
Raiffeisen Leasing Bulgaria was set up in 2004 with shareholders Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria, holding 24.5% of its shares, and Raiffeisen Leasing International, holding 75.5%. The Bulgarian leasing company pledges to have a 10.27% market share of the local leasing market.
Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria was the country's fourth largest bank by assets at the end of October, after UniCredit Bulbank, DSK Bank and United Bulgarian Bank, data of the Bulgarian central bank showed.
The EBRD, the largest single investor in Bulgaria, has provided significant finance to the country’s SME sector through lending and leasing projects under the programme EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility. So far, the Bank has extended 151 million euro of loans to nine banks and four leasing companies for on-lending and leasing to SMEs.
The EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility was launched in 1999 and includes 11 countries. ($ = 0.6826 euro)
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