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SKB Bank Gets EUR 75m EIB Loan to Finance SMEs

Ljubljana, 19 November (STA) - The French-owned bank SKB signed an agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) on Monday for a long-term loan of EUR 75m to finance micro, small and medium-sized companies and municipalities in Slovenia.

The deal was signed in Ljubljana by SKB chief executive director Gerald Lacaze and EIB vice president Anton Rop.

The bulk of the loan will be designed for the financing of SMEs with fewer than 250 employees, either to increase their capacity or to invest in development or new products or to get into new markets.

Funds for the public sector are intended for investment in energy, environment and knowledge-based economy. Also eligible are independent companies with a staff of between 250 and 3,000, according to SKB.

"We believe SKB is a bank that is capable of using the funds effectively," Rop said before signing the agreement. "We assume that SKB will make an additional contribution to [the loan] so that the outcome will be 150 million euro in extra investment for small and medium-sized businesses."

Lacaze pledged for SKB to continue to work on enhancing partnership with its clients and on acquiring sufficient capital to finance their projects. "SKB Group has been and will continue to be committed to stimulating quality investment in the strained economic situation," the bank's CEO said.

The EIB is committed to financing especially micro, small and medium-sized companies as they "largely create new jobs and stimulate growth", Rop said. These companies represent the backbone of economy, being a major employer, offering new employment opportunities and generating a substantial proportion of Slovenia's GDP.

SKB and the EIB signed the first EUR 75m loan deal in 2009, which provided the financing for 220 investment projects in all Slovenian regions. The latest loan is the first in a joint action plan by international financial institutions for growth in Central and South East Europe.

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