The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) signed in Zagreb on Mondaya EUR 250 million loan to support the projects of local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The loan agreement was signed by EIB Vice-President Dario Scannapieco and President of the HBOR Managing Board Dusan Tomasevic, who said that this was the second part of a credit line for SMEs totalling EUR 500 million, the first tranche of which was signed in 2014.
The EIB has been supporting the HBOR for 15 years, during which time 15 loan agreements totalling EUR 1.9 billion have been signed, and the HBOR has used the funds to support more than 2,700 projects, Tomasevic said.
Tomasevic noted that the EIB was among the first banks to have offered financing for Croatian SMEs at the height of the economic crisis, which made it possible for the HBOR to strengthen its corporate lending. He said that last year alone the HBOR had granted a record 7.8 billion kuna in loans, the bulk of which were channelled to small and medium-sized enterprises.
In the first half of 2016, the HBOR granted 1,452 loans totalling HRK 4.15 billion, which is 84% more in terms of the number of loans and 2% more in terms of their amount, Tomasevic said.
Scannapieco said that the loan would help implement projects in the areas of industry, services and tourism and other priority sectors, in amounts ranging from HRK 40,000 to HRK 2.5 million.
The loan forms part of the EIB's "Jobs for Youth Initiative", under which the EIB and HBOR will provide additional support to final beneficiaries if they can demonstrate that their investment project financed under the facility has contributed to the creation of jobs for young people.
The signing ceremony was attended by the Minister of Finance and President of the HBOR Supervisory Board, Zdravko Maric, who said that this year the HBOR had withdrawn over EUR 190 million to finance SMEs projects.
Maric said that an increasing number of such loans had been signed in recent months and that the interest in them should be used to boost further growth.
The loan was granted for 12 years, with a grace period of four years and at an interest rate of 0.5%. The interest rate for loan beneficiaries will be between 2% and 4%, depending on the credit line.
(EUR 1 = HRK 7.482907)