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Strong demand for Bank Austria’s subsidised SME loans in the first half of 2010

  • The volume of subsidised Bank Austria loans for small and medium-sized businesses in the first half of 2010 reached about EUR 137 m, up by almost one-third on the same period of 2009 (EUR 109 m).
  • While the number of loan applications almost doubled, many businesses did not use attractive opportunities to obtain public financial assistance.
  • Sufficient capital is still available for SMEs under Bank Austria’s “Economic Stimulus Billion“ initiative and from public agencies offering financial assistance.

The lending initiative launched by Bank Austria for small and medium-sized businesses met with strong demand from SMEs in the first half of 2010. The number of loan applications doubled compared with the first half of 2009, with the volume of subsidised loans rising from EUR 109 m in the first six months of 2009 to about EUR 137 m in the first half of 2010. In June 2010, the volume of subsidised loans to SMEs reached EUR 25 m, a further significant increase over June 2009 (EUR 16 m). Financial assistance provided by “austria wirtschaftsservice aws” makes up a large portion of the subsidies. In this area there are still attractive, though often unused, opportunities for SMEs to meet their financing needs at favourable terms.

“Our intensive efforts to support the Austrian business sector with responsible lending proved  successful in the first half of 2010”, says Rainer Hauser, member of Bank Austria’s Management Board. “We are very pleased that we were able to achieve massive growth of subsidised loans for small and medium-sized businesses compared with the same period of the previous year despite the persistent difficult economic environment. We want to draw the attention of SMEs to the fact that significant amounts of financial assistance are still available, for example at “austria wirtschaftsservice aws”, and businesses should use these opportunities.”

The SME Information Days organised by Bank Austria in a number of Austrian regions have been very successful: in cooperation with Bank Austria specialists, regional experts in financial assistance schemes provide advice to SMEs free of charge. The next SME Information Days will take place in Innsbruck on 12 October 2010, in Bregenz on 13 October 2010 and in the Bank Austria customer service centre in Vienna’s Schottengasse on 10 November 2010. Bank Austria offers specific advisory services at its SME consulting centres free of charge throughout Austria. “Today we can even better attend to specific regional needs of our customers”, says Karl-Heinz Krenn, financial assistance expert at Bank Austria and managing director of the credit associations in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland. “We use the SME Information Days to raise awareness of the fact that there is still a significant amount of funds available under financial assistance schemes and that the number of projects eligible for subsidies is much larger than business owners may think.”

The public sector has taken a number of measures, at the federal and regional levels, to cope with the economic crisis and has allocated additional funds to existing financial assistance schemes. Bank Austria as a service provider aims to support businesses in accessing such assistance. The bank’s consultants provide information on ERP loans, the SME initiative of the European Investment Bank, aws guarantees, OeKB guarantees and many other instruments. Financial assistance schemes offer SMEs various advantages which range from lower borrowing requirements to favourable terms and conditions on loans. The important thing is to find the proper mix of finance and subsidy for each customer.

Bank Austria Management Board member Rainer Hauser: “Medium-sized companies are currently benefiting especially from renewed export growth, and they invest primarily in research and development. While we still see some restraint in classic investment, things are looking up in this area, too.”

Enquiries: Bank Austria Media Relations Austria
Matthias Raftl, tel. +43 (0) 50505 52809;
e-mail: matthias.raftl@unicreditgroup.at

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