The EBRD is lending Commercial Bank Allianz Bulgaria €5mn to support the development of local small and medium-sized enterprises. The loan comes under the EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility and is being complemented by a €1mn grant from the European Commission for technical assistance and financial incentives.

James Hyslop, EBRD country director for Bulgaria, claims the loan will support the growth of Bulgaria’s private small business sector by facilitating their access to finance. A vibrant SME sector is a prerequisite for a strong economy. In order to grow, these companies need long term funds, and the EBRD welcomes CB Allianz Bulgaria strategy to increase its focus on this sector, he adds.

CB Allianz Bulgaria, majority-owned by Germany’s Allianz Group, is a universal bank offering a full range of banking services and focusing on the SME and retail sector through a network of 100 branches and representative offices in the country.

Georgi Momchilov, Procurator of CB Allianz Bulgaria, said with their flexibility SMEs are a major engine for economic development. In order to be competitive and to meet European standards, these enterprises need investments, especially in preparation for Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union. Providing finance to the SMEs represents our commitment to this process, he underlined.

CB Allianz Bulgaria aims to use the proceeds of the EBRD loan and the EC grant to streamline its approach to SME lending. The EBRD has an important strategic partnership with Allianz Group, whose parent company Allianz AG is the largest insurer in the EBRD’s countries of operations.

The EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility, a joint programme of the European Commission and the EBRD, supports the development and growth of SMEs by facilitating their access to finance. Under the programme, the Bank will make available funding of €1.1 billion, of which €1,056.5 million has been committed to signed projects to date. The EC has contributed €156.75 million in grant financing since the launch of the programme in 1999.

The EBRD is the largest investor in Bulgaria with over €1.3 billion committed to projects across the country