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EIF and UniCredit to provide €1 billion for SMEs in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia


  • Support for small and medium enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • UniCredit will provide financing with more favourable conditions
  • The operation is backed by the European Guarantee Fund (EGF), part of the European Union’s €540 billion COVID-19 response package agreed last year

The European Investment Fund (EIF) will provide €700 million in guarantees to UniCredit, allowing the lender to provide up to €1 billion of financing to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia to accelerate the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The EIF guarantees stem from the European Guarantee Fund (EGF), a €25 billion guarantee facility set up by the EIB Group in 2020 to boost the post-COVID-19 recovery of the European economy, safeguard jobs, and provide much needed liquidity to European SMEs. The breakdown of the guarantee agreement is as follows: In Bulgaria (up to €175m), Slovakia (up to €300m), Slovenia (up to €80m) and Croatia (up to €300m). The remaining portfolio volume will be allocated across the four countries in accordance with the observed demand.

The UniCredit Group members in the above four countries, including banks and leasing institutions, will offer loans and other financial products to SMEs under more favourable terms including reduced interest rates, longer grace periods, lower collateral requirements or extended maturities. The loans will be available to SMEs operating in the sectors of economy hardest hit by the pandemic and accelerate the recovery of national economies.

Roger Havenith, Deputy Chief Executive of the EIF, said: “The COVID-19 crisis is still with us and businesses across Europe are experiencing the economic consequences. The EIF partnership with UniCredit Group will provide much needed financing for small and medium-sized businesses in four countries. Our cooperation will save jobs, boost investments and competitiveness of SMEs and thereby contribute to a faster economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. I want to thank UniCredit Group for their long-standing partnership and look forward to continued cooperation in the future.”

EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova commented: “I am delighted that under the European Guarantee Fund, the EIF is announcing a new partnership with UniCredit Group to unlock up to €1 billion of more accessible financing for SMEs in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia. The EIB Group stands ready to partner with financial institutions and companies across Europe to support the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Gianfranco Bisagni, Head of Central Europe and Teodora Petkova, Head of Eastern Europe at UniCredit, added: "We are offering continued support to European SMEs and mid-caps that play such a central role in our economies. Thanks to these guarantees and to our strong pipeline we will be able to increase the overall financing up to EUR 1bn, being able to further offer our clients favourable terms to manage their liquidity, finance their future investments and drive forward the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis”.

Tsvetanka Mintcheva, CEO and Chairman of the Management board of UniCredit Bulbank, said: "UniCredit Bulbank is a reliable business partner and knows the business' challenges and needs. As a bank, a leader in the corporate segment, we strive to support and assist entrepreneurs in this process. Thanks to this cooperation, UniCredit Bulbank and UniCredit Leasing will provide a financial tool to Bulgarian companies. In this way, we will support both the rebuilding of the business and the economy in the country."

Background information:

About the European Investment Fund

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance. The EIF designs and develops both venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, the EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth and employment.

About the European Guarantee Fund

The European Guarantee Fund (EGF) was set up by the EIB Group with contributions from, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia and other EU Member States to shield companies suffering from the COVID-19 crisis. Using nearly €25 billion in guarantees, the EGF allows the EIB and the EIF to quickly make loans, guarantees, asset-backed securities, equity and other financial instruments available to mostly small and medium-sized enterprises, to allow them to come through difficult times and grow their way out of the crisis. The EGF is part of the European Union’s recovery package aiming to provide a total of €540 billion to boost those parts of the EU economy that have been hit the worst.

About UniCredit

UniCredit is a pan-European Commercial Bank with a unique franchise in Italy, Germany, Central Europe and Eastern Europe and a Corporate & Investment Banking across all group geographies.We meet real client needs with real solutions. We offer local and international expertise, providing unparalleled access to market leading products and services in 13 core markets through our European banking network. Leveraging on an international network of representative offices and branches, UniCredit serves clients in another 15 countries worldwide.

Additional media information:

Ekaterina Ancheva, tel +359 894 518 193 , flbufsjob/bodifwbAvojdsfejuhspvq/ch

Darina Radoslavova, tel +359 887 505273, Ebsjob/SbeptmbwpwbAVojDsfejuHspvq/CH