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The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Garantiqa Creditguarantee (Garantiqa) have signed a COSME agreement in Hungary that will allow Garantiqa to provide guarantees to HUF 80 billion (ca. EUR 260 million) of loans to small and medium-sized Hungarian businesses.

This agreement was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). EFSI is the central pillar of the European Commission's Investment Plan for Europe

The agreement signed today is the largest SME financing initiative in Hungary at the moment, as it provides some 3,500 Hungarian SMEs with access to loans totalling HUF 80 billion via a guarantee facility. Borrowers will be able to enjoy the benefits of the COSME counter-guarantee when using overdraft facilities and working-capital loans, investment loans, leasing facilities and bank guarantees.

EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: "Business support and the creation of jobs and growth, lies at the heart of EIF’s strategy. EIF is committed to supporting SMEs and is pleased to be signing the largest EFSI SME agreement in Hungary, with Garantiqa. These 3,500 small and medium-sized enterprises will contribute to driving job creation and growth in Hungary and across Europe.”

Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “The agreement signed today by the European Investment Fund and Garantiqa is very good news for small Hungarian businesses. Thanks to support from the Investment Plan for Europe, not only will 3,500 small businesses have access to HUF 80 billion in finance to grow their companies, but the deal will also help reduce the administrative burden involved in getting a loan. I encourage SMEs in Hungary with an investment proposal to use this opportunity and apply to Garantiqa.”

Dr Éva Búza, CEO of Garantiqa Creditguarantee Co. Ltd emphasised: “Guarantee facilities have been growing in popularity among micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in recent years. This is reflected in the fact that Garantiqa achieved record business results last year, with the guarantee portfolio growing by 21 percent to HUF 443 billion, and businesses taking out HUF 540 billion in credit using its guarantee facilities. Garantiqa expects the guarantee portfolio to grow by more than 20 percent this year, due, among other factors, to the cooperation agreement that has just been signed.”

Tamás Bernáth, Chairman & CEO of the Hungarian Development Bank (MFB), commented: “The “MFB-Indicator” corporate survey shows a growing willingness on the part of small and medium-sized enterprises to borrow and invest, and this is also supported by official central bank figures: in the second quarter of this year, the corporate lending market expanded by 7 percent. Lending to the narrowly defined SME sector grew by 8.3 percent, while lending to the broadly defined sector that includes independent enterprises increased by 13 percent.”

Today's agreement means that businesses which were previously excluded from state counter-guarantees will now also be able to benefit from favourable guarantee-based facilities. In addition, The EU-backed “portfolio guarantees”, further reduce the administrative burden on both the lending banks and the businesses, and reduces the time needed to place loans.