The European Investment Bank (EIB) and UniCredit Bank Srbija AD (UCBS) have signed an agreement to provide up to € 50 million for the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-sized companies in Serbia in order to help meet the challenge of recovering from the COVID-19 crisis. The loan will help businesses overcome financial constraints caused by the pandemic, maintaining cash flow and jobs. This is the fourth line of credit granted to date by the EIB to support Serbian companies as part of the Team Europe financial package for the COVID-19 revival in the Western Balkans. With the new loan signed today, the total EIB funding for COVID-19 recovery provided to Serbian SMEs since the start of the pandemic will reach € 140 million.
UCBS will on-lend the funds to SMEs and midcaps in Serbia affected by the COVID-19 crisis on more favorable and affordable terms. Companies will be able to use EIB funds to finance their medium and long term liquidity, working capital and investment needs.
EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova, Head of Bank Activities in Serbia, said: “The EIB continues to support the growth and development of Serbia with this important investment signed today. We are committed to creating the conditions for a faster recovery from COVID-19. and the transition of the Serbian economy to a more resilient, green and sustainable model capable of successfully competing in global markets.We are pleased to have partners like UniCredit Bank who are able to extend our financial support directly to businesses in Serbia, thereby saving jobs and income for thousands of people. ”
Teodora Petkova, Head of Eastern Europe at UniCredit, said: “We continue to be committed to providing continued support for the development of local businesses and economies through these initiatives to accelerate the recovery of COVID- 19. This represents another concrete step towards ensuring liquidity. continuity of flows, especially for SMEs, which represent one of the key pillars of the economies of the Western Balkans, enabling them to finance working capital and investment programs.At UniCredit, we work closely with our subsidiaries in all countries to take decisive and tangible actions as part of the solution, ensuring the continuity of both production and the supply chain in the economies of Eastern Europe. “
Feza Tan, Chairman of the Board and CEO of UniCredit Bank Serbia, said: “Our long-term successful partnership with the EIB extends with this new loan agreement. We are proud to continue to work with the EIB to support the local economy. Through UniCredit Bank and UniCredit Leasing Serbia, we have so far used over EUR 95 million in EIB financing. We look forward to channeling these funds to local businesses. Being one of the leading banks in the market, we have the responsibility and the strength to continue to actively support the recovery and development of the country. ”
Mateja Norčič Štamcar, Chargé d’affaires of the EU Delegation to Serbia said: “SMEs are the backbone of the economy and that is why we finance this area both in the form of grants but also through credits and credit guarantees. We are happy to partner with the banking industry in this regard. All efforts by the EU to support innovative and technology-driven SMEs and other sectors in which these companies work will ultimately serve the modernization of Serbia and boost the economy, in particular to help affected companies. by the COVID crisis. “
Increased access to finance for SMEs in the Western Balkans
The EIB has a well-established relationship with UniCredit, which has to date set up several EIB lines of credit, totaling over € 150 million, for the financing of SMEs and mid-caps in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The latest cooperation, signed in 2020, is a social impact loan for SMEs, first established in Serbia. This type of innovative financing is designed for businesses that have a positive impact on their community by providing employment and professional development to people from vulnerable social groups.