The FINANCIAL — The European Investment Bank (EIB) is joining forces with Banco de Sabadell to expand its capacity to lend to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps hit by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, the EIB will provide €300 million in financing to enable the Spanish bank to mobilise a total of €600 million over the next two years.
According to EIB, the operation consists of a risk-sharing guarantee under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, which enables the EIB Group to expand its support for investments fostering economic growth, competitiveness and employment. The EIB is granting this guarantee to Banco de Sabadell, S.A., on a portfolio of existing corporate loans, creating additional financing capacity to support Spanish industry.
In particular, the agreement between the EIB and Sabadell under EFSI aims to promote investment by facilitating access to finance by SMEs and mid-caps, which are the backbone of the Spanish economy in terms of growth and jobs.
EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix, who is responsible for the EU bank’s operations in Spain, said: “This kind of operation is key to protecting European industry and enabling small and medium-sized enterprises to overcome the financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus crisis. We are happy to join forces once again with Banco de Sabadell via this EFSI-backed guarantee that will mobilise funds to continue supporting SMEs and mid-caps, which will in turn contribute to growth, competitiveness and employability on the Spanish market.”
Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, said: “This agreement between the EIB and Banco de Sabadell in Spain, which is backed by the Investment Plan for Europe, is an important sign of EU support for Spanish SMEs which have been hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis. Thanks to this agreement, these businesses will have access to additional financing, which will help them to continue their operations, maintain jobs and kick-start the recovery.”
Banco Sabadell Assistant General Manager Sergio Palavecino said: “Without a doubt, a key focus for Sabadell continues to be meeting the needs of our companies. The implementation of this new agreement with the EIB provides a clear boost to this strategy, as it enables us to benefit from the support and guarantee of the European body, while we also commit to taking on new financing to serve the present and future ambitions of our SMEs and companies.”
EIB response to COVID-19
To combat the economic impact of this crisis in Europe and as part of the package of measures the EU is deploying to tackle the economic effects of the pandemic, on 23 April 2020 the European Council approved the EIB Group’s creation of a €25 billion Pan-European Guarantee Fund (EGF) focusing primarily on supporting SMEs across the EU. The fund will make it possible to mobilise up to an estimated €200 billion of additional financing, according to EIB.
The EIB Group is playing a key role in directly combating COVID-19 by supporting EU efforts to halt the spread of the pandemic, find a cure for the illness and develop a vaccine. To this end, the EU bank is prioritising all investments related to the health sector and research and development programmes focusing on this goal. The EIB’s current project portfolio for supporting both critical healthcare infrastructure and research and development investments in the EU health sector stands at around €6 billion. The EIB and the World Health Organization also recently signed an agreement to drive cooperation between the two institutions and work together to strengthen healthcare systems in the countries most vulnerable to the pandemic.