Finland’s export credit agency Finnvera has agreed to guarantee a social loan from a group of commercial lenders, in a deal backing the export of Nokia 5G equipment to Japanese conglomerate SoftBank.

Finnvera is providing a buyer credit guarantee with a tenor of 8.5 years as part of the agreement, signed in late March.

The agency is covering 90% of the total financing amount of ¥35bn (approximately US$273mn) from Crédit Agricole CIB, Mizuho, MUFG and SMBC, which are acting as lenders and arrangers on the transaction.

Funding is supporting SoftBank’s procurement of equipment and services from Finnish firm Nokia, as the Japanese company works to build out 5G base stations across the Asian country.

The export credit agency (ECA)-backed deal will ultimately serve a social purpose, facilitating the rollout of vital new infrastructure needed for applications such as autonomous driving, telemedicine and smart cities, SoftBank says.

The loan is structured to conform to the global loan market associations’ jointly-launched Social Loan Principles, with SoftBank establishing a framework governing its use of funds, their management and reporting guidelines.

In recent years, ECAs have been eyeing an increasing role in the 5G sector amid concerns among policymakers in the US and some European countries over the influence of Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (US Exim) announced a “historic” change to its domestic content rules in late 2020, a move industry figures said would be a boon for American 5G companies whose supply chains often rely on foreign manufacturers, such as Nokia, Samsung and Ericsson.

Sweden and the UK have both banned network operators from using Huawei 5G equipment in their networks, after then-President Donald Trump sanctioned the firm in 2019 – before later issuing a rule in 2020 barring the Chinese company and its suppliers from using American technology and software.