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The EBRD has renewed and expanded a framework agreement with Soufflet Group, increasing the facility to Eu65mn to promote Soufflet’s malting, milling and barley collect businesses across central and eastern Europe. The financing should improve the efficiency of barley production and collection techniques, and provide a stable source of income for local farmers.

Within the extended framework the EBRD has agreed to lend Eu20mn in short-term working capital loans to Soufflet’s subsidiaries in Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Kazakhstan for the development and purchase of barley.

Hans Christian Jacobsen, director of agribusiness at EBRD, says Soufflet has worked actively in the region for more than five years, focusing largely on ways to replace imports of malting barley with local production. The EBRD is pleased to build on the original, US$50mn framework, he says, and continue supporting the company’s work with local farmers and farming communities in central and eastern Europe.

“Since the Soufflet Group adopted a development policy in the central and eastern European countries, the EBRD has strongly contributed to our malting division and we are confident of continuous cooperation in the future,” says Jean-Michel Soufflet, head of the management board of Ets J Soufflet, the holding company of Soufflet Group.

Founded in 1900 by the Soufflet family, the Soufflet Group is one of the leading malting companies in the world, with activities in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia. The Soufflet family has grown to be the one of the largest purchasers of French grain and exports products throughout the European Union, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The group has been recently expanding its operations to eastern Europe. Soufflet employs about 2,400 people.