The FINANCIAL — During the annual EIB press conference, Mr Mathias KOLLATZ-AHNEN, EIB Vice-President commented on the recent development in EIB activities and its lending priorities in Turkey.
During the event, EIB and Halkbank signed a new EIB Loan for SMEs for an amount of EUR 150 million following the successful deployment by Halkbank of its previous facility.
According to EIB, the agreement with Halkbank was signed today in a public signature ceremony in Ankara by Mr Mathias KOLLATZ-AHNEN, , Mr Hüseyin AYDIN, CEO and Board Member of Halkbank, and Mr Süleyman ASLAN, Deputy General Manager of Halkbank. The event took place in the presence of Mr Memduh Aslan, General Manager of the Undersecretariat of Treasury.
"As the European Union's bank, we are keen to reconfirm our large, swift and strong support to Turkey, which remains the largest recipient country of EIB financing outside the EU. Ongoing support for the country's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has been prioritised in 2009. Today, we are re-confirming our commitment to assist the Turkish entrepreneurial activity through this new signature with our successful banking partner Halkbank. I am particularly pleased that given the strength of its retail network, Halkbank is reaching smaller companies of 50 people and below with our facility and intents also to utilise a significant portion of the new loan for the benefit of Turkey's priority development regions" EIB Vice-President Matthias Kollatz-Ahnen said on the occasion in Ankara today.
Halkbank's CEO, Mr Hüseyin AYDIN commented: "Extending loans with terms compatible to the needs of SMEs is just as important as facilitating their access to financial resources. In this respect, Halkbank highly values our cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB). Since 2001, the bank has signed five protocols with the EIB, acquiring resources totalling €390 million. With the protocol signed today, the fund volume has reached €540 million. Almost a thousand SMEs benefit from these programs, and right now 434 companies are currently at risk. Customer instalment payments are reutilized under EIB terms, benefitting even more companies. The successful outcome of utilizing resources transferred from the EIB to Halkbank in extending loans to SMEs comprised the first part of the agreement signed on June 8, 2009. We are here today to sign the second part of the agreement: the €150 million new protocol. We contend that by duly executing our SME banking mission, Halkbank will provide more productive solutions to Turkey in seeking funds by transferring these resources to SMEs. Drawing strength from our experience in SME banking and the trust we have built up in the markets, Halkbank will continue cooperating with international finance organizations in the future."
Lending activity in 2009:
The European Investment Bank increased its overall lending volume in 2009 to an unprecedented EUR 79 billion, a 37% rise from EUR 58 billion in 2008. This represents a new milestone in providing financial support for the European economy. Whilst the EU countries account for the lion's share of EIB lending (over EUR 70 billion or 89% of the total volume) the Bank also provided significant financial support to countries outside the EU, including in Candidate and Potential Candidate countries.
Last year, the EIB reinforced its focus on (i) small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), (ii) economically weaker regions across Europe ("convergence areas") and (iii) the energy sector in the context of the fight against climate change.
EIB activity in Turkey
The EIB, as the European Union's Bank is the long-standing, solid partner of Turkey (with over 40 years of operations) offering broad experience with public and private investments in all key sectors.
In 2009, the EIB provided a total lending of EUR 2.6 billion, which is well above a non-crisis level of EUR 2 billion per year. The Bank reinforced its activity in terms of the three pillars that have been set as strategic objectives: (i) the financing of infrastructure, both at the national level and in favour of local authorities, (ii) supporting SMEs through credit lines with a number of banking partners and (iii) the financing of the corporate sector, especially in favour of energy and renewables as well as foreign direct investment.
In 2009, the Bank's activity in Turkey was weighted in favour of SMEs, the small and medium-sized enterprises. The Bank acted boldly with a total of EUR 1.5 billion to ease SME funding constraints in the country during the crisis. This action was made possible through the close co-operation and synergy the Bank established with its Turkish financial intermediaries.
Continued support to major economic infrastructure, mainly in transport and energy, was another EIB priority during the crisis period, targeting growth leverage and increased quality of life for people. In 2009, EIB extended EUR 293 million in favour of the country's main railway transport corridor between Ankara and Istanbul. This new loan brought the total of EIB funding for this flagship High Speed Railway Line project to 850 million euros.
The Bank financed a total of EUR 460 million in favour of energy projects, demonstrating strong support for the country's energy development potential and needs. The lending targeted critical sub-sectors including electricity distribution, energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Bank received the distinction of being nominated European Onshore Wind Project Finance Magazine Deal of the Year for a windpark project in Turkey.
EIB also supported the strengthening of the country's Knowledge Economy, in particular investments in R&D, education and training by providing a loan of EUR 335m in favour of the Turkish Higher Education Council to finance public sector research.