Published on 04/04/2016

Investment Plan for Europe: EIF and Societe Generale sign agreement to bring EUR 250 million to over 14,000 small businesses

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Societe Generale have signed a COSME* agreement in France, benefiting from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), a key pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe** which aims to revive investment in strategic projects around Europe.

The COSME agreement will allow Franfinance, a subsidiary of Societe Generale specializing in consumer finance & equipment services, to provide EUR 250m of leases to over 14,000 small businesses in France. Under the COSME programme, the EIF will provide Franfinance with a guarantee with financial backing from the European Commission which will thus allow Franfinance to substantially increase its leasing volumes over the next 3 years by providing support to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) that have limited access to finance.

This is the second COSME agreement signed by Societe Generale and the EIF this year. In January, an agreement signed with Komercni banka, a subsidiary of Societe Generale Group in the Czech Republic allowed over 1,000 SMEs in the country to benefit from financing at favourable conditions.

Commenting on the signature, EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert, said: “14,000 SMEs will be able to benefit from leases as a result of this EFSI COSME guarantee agreement with Societe Generale. In addition to agreements signed last year in France under COSME, this transaction helps us to bring support to more than 80,000 French SMEs. I am confident that this agreement will help entrepreneurs gain access to necessary tools and services in order to grow their businesses.”

Gérard Touati, Chief Executive at Franfinance, said: "Supporting entrepreneurs in their investment projects and accompanying our partners in their commercial activity to foster their economic development is our core mission. Thanks to the COSME programme and the enlarged access to finance it provides to entrepreneurs, Societe Generale reaffirms its commitment to SMEs, key drivers of the Europe’s growth and, more broadly, to the financing of the economy.”

Commenting on the agreement, the EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle added: "I am delighted with the signature of this new agreement with Societe Generale which is a key partner in the EIB Group's activities in France. It is by combining our skills and resources that we will be able to meet as best we can the financing and development needs of businesses, in particular SMEs. This is how we support their competitiveness and growth and the dynamism that is vital to our economies. The European Fund for Strategic Investments, a basic component of the Investment Plan for Europe or the 'Juncker Plan', is gathering momentum as is shown by this new contract for French businesses. The EIB Group has already approved more than 200 projects covered by the EFSI guarantee which are expected to mobilise a total investment of EUR 76 billion in 23 EU countries – almost a quarter of the overall target of EUR 315 billion".

The European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “France continues to benefit enormously from the Investment Plan for Europe, and today’s EFSI agreement with Franfinance is another great example. I applaud the French banks and intermediaries which have shown initiative and collaborated with the EIF and I encourage banks in other Member States to be as proactive.”

This transaction reflects the EIB Group’s commitment to respond swiftly to calls from Member States, the European Commission and the European Parliament for the rapid launch of concrete initiatives under EFSI, accelerating lending and guarantee transactions capable of boosting jobs and growth in the EU.

* About COSME
COSME is the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) running from 2014 to 2020 with a total budget of EUR 2.3 billion. At least 60% of the programme will be devoted to ease access to finance for SMEs in Europe, with two financial instruments. The COSME Loan Guarantee Facility supports guarantees and counter-guarantees to financial institutions to help them provide more loans and lease finance to SMEs. This facility also includes securitisation of SME debt finance portfolios. The COSME programme also invests through the COSME Equity Facility for Growth in equity funds that provide risk capital to SMEs mainly in the expansion and growth stages. The COSME programme builds on the success of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013) which helped to mobilise more than EUR 20 billion of loans and EUR 3 billion of venture capital to over 377,000 SMEs in Europe.
Businesses can contact selected financial institutions in their country to access EU financing:

** About the Investment Plan for Europe
The Investment Plan focuses on removing obstacles to investment, providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects and making smarter use of new and existing financial resources. The Investment Plan is already showing results. The European Investment Bank (EIB) estimates that by February 2016, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) triggered more than €76 billion of investment in Europe.

Find out the latest EFSI figures including a break-down by sector and by country here. For more information see the FAQs.