Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) have signed an agreement to extend financing for innovative Israeli small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), "Reuters" reports. The initiative is backed by the European Commission.
Under the terms of the agreement Bank Leumi will provide financing of up to $100 million to Israeli high-tech companies, backed by a $50 million guarantee provided by the EIF as part of the Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation. The EIF is part of the European Investment Bank.
This is the first such EIF agreement in Israel, enabling LeumiTech, Leumi's high-tech banking arm, to provide financing on favorable terms over the next two years to high-tech companies with up to 500 employees.
EIF CEO Luigi Gilibert told "Reuters," "We believe this could be the first in a series of collaborations."
The guarantee programme allows banks and the EIF to share the risk, said Gilibert and he said that the EIF would be open to requests from other Israeli banks.
Bank Leumi CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach said SMEs are a focus of the bank, as it sees strong growth in coming years, especially in high-tech.
Leumi expects to use the entire amount provided by the EIF in the next two years and then request more, "Reuters" reported.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 15, 2016
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