First multi-country RSI guarantee agreements in Europe for innovative businesses

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and UniCredit under the lead of UniCredit Bank Austria have signed today multi-country guarantee agreements to support lending to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as small mid-caps in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia under an initiative funded by the European Commission.
The new agreements signed under the Risk Sharing Instrument (RSI) initiative allow UniCredit Banks to provide innovative companies in the five countries with access to a total of EUR 60m of financing with support of the 50% guarantee provided by the EIF. This enables UniCredit Banks to offer innovative companies additional financing at favourable conditions.
These are the 1st multi-country RSI agreements of the 36 RSI agreements in Europe, bringing the total loan finance available to innovative businesses across the EU under this initiative to above EUR 3.2bn.

Commenting on the signature, EIF Director of Guarantees, Securitisation and Microfinance, Alessandro Tappi said: "The EIF is pleased to be signing the first multi-country Risk Sharing Instrument (RSI) agreements in these five countries, to support innovative small and medium sized enterprises with UniCredit. These agreements will ensure that much needed finance will be quickly channelled to innovation driven businesses in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia."

"Without doubt SMEs are the backbone of European economies. The benefit for SMEs from the first multi-country Risk Sharing Instrument guarantee agreements is clear: they will profit from even more attractive terms as we fully pass the guarantee-related cost advantages on to our customers. We are happy to put at work our unique network in Europe to provide this favorable financing throughout five Central Eastern European countries", said Gianfranco Bisagni, Head of CEE Corporate and Investment Banking at UniCredit Bank Austria.

The aim of the RSI Facility is to encourage banks to lend to SMEs and small mid-caps with fewer than 500 employees in need of investment financing and/or operating capital to support research, development and innovation activities, with EU financial support. Banks have been selected by the EIF following a call for expression of interest for financial intermediaries across Europe.

About Risk-Sharing Instrument (RSI) under FP7

The RSI facility aims to encourage banks to provide loans of up to €7.5 million to SMEs and small mid-caps undertaking research, development or innovation, and seeking finance for investments and/or working capital. The RSI is a joint initiative of the EIF, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission. It is supported by the European Union under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) and uses EIF's risk-taking capacity. It is part of, and complements, the existing Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF), managed by the EIB. The programme will be succeeded by "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators" from 2014-2020.

Under the RSI facility, the European Investment Fund (EIF) is providing guarantees to banks and leasing companies that lend to SMEs and Small Mid-Caps. The guarantee covers, upon default, up to 50% of the outstanding amount of each loan.
The call was open to financial or credit institutions, established and operating in the EU and/or countries associated to FP7, including, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, Switzerland, Israel, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Faroe Islands and Moldova.

About the EIF
The European Investment Fund's (EIF) central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance.  EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment. EIF's total net commitments to private equity funds amounted to over EUR 7.9bn at end 2013. With investments in over 435 funds, EIF is a leading player in European venture due to the scale and the scope of its investments, especially in high-tech and early-stage segments. EIF's guarantees loan portfolio totalled over EUR 5.6bn in over 300 operations at end 2013, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.
About UniCredit Bank Austria
UniCredit Bank Austria has been a member of UniCredit, one of the largest European banking groups, since 2005. The bank has one of the strongest capital bases among the large banks in Austria. The Tier 1 capital ratio (based on all risks) improved to 11.0 per cent as of 31 March 2014. Total assets of Bank Austria as at 31 March 2014 amounted to EUR 179.2 billion.
The bank maintains an extensive network in Austria, with about 9,600 employees serving customers in some 260 branches. During the financial and economic crisis, Bank Austria demonstrated its financial strength: it was the only major bank in Austria that did not use state aid to strengthen its capital.
Bank Austria is a modern and dynamic universal bank offering its customers access to international financial markets. Bank Austria serves as UniCredit's hub for the banking network in Central and Eastern Europe, a region where the Group is the clear market leader with about 2,500 branches in 14 countries.

Press contacts:

EIF: David Yormesor
Tel.: +352 42 66 88 346, e-mail: d.yormesor@eif.org

UniCredit Bank
UniCredit Bank: Tiemon Kiesenhofer 
Tel. +43 50505 56036, e-mail: tiemon.kiesenhofer@unicreditgroup.at