A Eu5mn loan from the EBRD to Alpha Leasing, one of the largest leasing companies in Romania, is set to boost support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the country.
The loan is provided under the EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility, a joint programme of the European Commission (EC) and the EBRD to support the development and growth of SMEs by facilitating their access to finance. Under this programme, the EBRD has committed Eu850mn, of which Eu650mn has been disbursed by local banks and leasing companies via 27,000 loans and leases.
The EC has committed Eu130mn in grant financing and for technical assistance since the facility’s launch in 1999. This loan will be supplemented by a Eu100,000 technical cooperation package and up to Eu442,000 in financial incentives provided by the EC.
Jonathan Woollett, EBRD director for non-bank financial institutions, says leasing is becoming increasingly important in the EU accession countries, as progress in transition leads to the development of more sophisticated financial services, including leasing. The EBRD sees the expansion of leasing activities as one of its priorities under its efforts to promote the development of SMEs. Woollett says he expects this loan to help local entrepreneurs prepare for competition within the EU.
Alpha Leasing, a member of Alpha Bank Group, the largest banking group in Greece, is already a strong supporter of SMEs in Romania, with more than 1,000 local companies already in its books, mainly small to and medium sized businesses. The company is already in discussions with local importers and suppliers of various types of equipment, including industrial, medical, construction goods, as well as commercial light and heavy vehicles, all to be leased under this facility.
Aris Gogos, managing director of Alpha Leasing Romania, adds that this loan will further boost the company’s successful support for SMEs, especially within the leasing market in Romania. “Our competitive advantages include our growing experience of the local environment since 1998, our in-house know-how and leasing expertise, and the high quality services provided by our well educated, trained and skilled staff,” says Gogos.
The SME Facility was launched under the European Commission’s Phare Programme, the main channel for the EU’s financial and technical cooperation with the new member countries of central and eastern Europe. The budget earmarked for the programme as a whole is about Eu1.5bn a year.