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ZAGREB (Croatia), January 16 (SeeNews) - The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Italian banking group UniCredit have agreed to double the InnovFin SME guarantee aimed at improving access to finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in nine countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), EIFsaid.
"The operation signed today will increase the overall portfolio from 500 million euro up to 1 billion euro for the benefit of some 1,300 SMEs and small mid-caps. This growth is proof of EIF’s and UniCredit’s dedication to enhancing access to finance for SMEs operating in Central and Eastern Europe," EIF chief investment officer, Alessandro Tappi, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The new agreement will allow UniCredit's nine banks and six leasing companies to offer an additional 500 million euro to innovative SMEs and small mid-caps in Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia, EIF explained.
The project benefits from EU's framework programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the financial pillar of the European Commission's Investment Plan for Europe.
In particular, the banks in Serbia and Bosnia and the leasing company in Serbia will be supported by a EIF guarantee backed under Horizon 2020. The guarantee agreements with the banks and leasing companies in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia will be backed by the EFSI.