The European Investment Fund (EIF, part of the European Investment Bank group), Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, and export credit agency Sace (both part of the CDP group) have signed two guarantee agreements to provide a total of €1bn to Italian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who seek to innovate and reach international markets.

The COSME (also known as the programme for the competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs) agreement will provide the CDP group with a counter-guarantee allowing the organisation to increase its guarantee volumes, supporting financially underserved Italian SMEs. This is expected to leverage a loan portfolio of €400mn for over 500 companies.

Under the second agreement, called InnovFin, the CDP group will be able to provide guarantees on bank loans over the next two years for companies seeking to invest in research and innovation. The loan benefits from the support of a counter-guarantee provided by the EIF and backed under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s framework programme for research and innovation. This operation is expected to generate a loan portfolio of up to €600mn to benefit over 300 companies.

“Sace will counter-guarantee the credit lines made available to SMEs under the programme ‘2i for the company: innovation & internationalisation’. Such programme is aimed at supporting Italian SMEs that bet on innovation and internationalisation and need to finance their investments in research and development. There is no specific restriction in terms of industry/sectors involved,” a Sace spokesperson tells GTR.

These agreements represent the first joint InnovFin and COSME transactions implemented under the European Fund for Strategic Investments, aiming to accelerate lending and guarantee transactions capable of boosting jobs and growth in the EU.