The FINANCIAL — The EBRD, in cooperation with the Croatian Employers’ Association (HUP), held a conference in Zagreb on December 6 to introduce the Enterprise Expansion Fund (ENEF), a regional private equity fund focused on development and expansion capital.
ENEF provides equity and quasi-equity to selected investee companies, mobilising a total of approximately €100 million via direct and parallel co-financing for Croatia and the Western Balkans region. The EBRD plays a key role in ENEF as its single largest investor and investment adviser.
The conference underscored the role of equity financing in value creation and corporate transformation and was dedicated to topical issues and challenges entrepreneurs encounter in everyday business. The transition from a family enterprise to a corporation, generational succession and the introduction of professional management, financing business growth, and access to finance are some of the challenges entrepreneurs face, according to the EBRD.
Emil Tedeschi, CEO of the Croatian food company Atlantic Grupa, shared his experience with the key points of the company’s development, discussing how it expanded to become one of the largest private companies in the country.
His remarks were followed by a panel discussion on “Challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship”, bringing together Ivo Usmiani, CEO of the pharmaceutical producer Jadran – galenski laboratorij d.d., Monika Mikac, COO of the electric vehicle technology company Rimac automobili d.o.o., Ivan Franičević, CEO of the manufacturer of professional road-service technology Rasco d.o.o. and Lena Habuš, partner at Ernst & Young.
Lastly, Luka Stanić, CEO of BG Reklam, spoke about how his company approaches innovation and shared his experiences of cooperation with the EBRD. BG Reklam is a leader in the design, development and manufacturing of permanent point-of-sale materials in Serbia.
Vedrana Jelušić Kašić, EBRD Regional Director for Croatia, Slovenia, Slovak Republic and Hungary, added: “Sharing our experience provides us with valuable lessons and allows us to learn from each other. This high-profile gathering produced many important insights, which we will take on board in order to deepen and intensify our approach to equity investment.”
Fabio Serri, EBRD Regional Head of SME Finance and Development for the Western Balkans, said: “Small and medium-sized enterprises remain the backbone of the economy in many countries where the EBRD invests and it is crucial to provide them with the support they need. Together with ENEF we have developed targeted models and a tailor-made approach which can offer private businesses in early stages of development vital assistance in financing and other areas.”
The EBRD signed its first project in Croatia in 1994 and has invested €3.6 billion in 198 projects to date. The Bank’s activities cover all areas of the economy but are especially strong in the infrastructure, corporate, financial institutions and energy sectors.
ENEF is part of the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) platform, which aims to enhance and support access to finance for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises across the region. Under this facility a total of €145 million of capital has been pulled together by the EU, international financial institutions (the EBRD, European Investment Fund, German Investment Corporation DEG), beneficiaries and bilateral donors.