The new Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), a multi-funded strategic bank, was launched by the government on Friday. The aim of the state-backed scheme is to make lending available to small and medium sized businesses.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin launched the scheme in a ceremony in Farmleigh House in Phoenix Park, Dublin. German finance minister and the head of the European Investment Bank (EIB) were also in attendance.
The new SBCI will make an initial €800 million available for SMEs to borrow money at more favourable terms, allow for longer term loans, and to support expansion and job creation. Mr Noonan said “we have big plans for the SBCI and it will be a key source of funding for years to come”.
Initially the SBCI will be jointly funded by €150m from German Bank KFW, €400m from the European Investment Bank (EIB), and €240 from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).
The scheme is designed to help restart lending to SMEs and could facilitate up to €5 billion in lending to the SME sector over 5 years. Taoiseach Endy Kenny said “it will finance SMEs in first instance but can grow to finance other key sectors of the economy.”
Ireland’s SME sector has suffered a squeeze on credit and investment. SMEs can begin accessing the loan scheme from December this year and it will be administered by AIB and Bank of Ireland.
German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble said “I am confident the SBCI will help improve the economic situation and labour market in Ireland and contribute to Europe.” EIB president Werner Hoyer said the scheme could be a model for other European countries.