The European Investment Bank (EIB) plans to boost its lending operations in Bulgaria by 40% to 400 million euro ($557 million) in 2014, with a new focus on energy, the lender's vice president said.
“We did very well in 2013 in Bulgaria. We increased [our lending activities by] 48% from 2012 and we’ll continue this trend for 2014 and the years ahead,” Mihai Tanasescu told news agency SeeNews.
The bank will continue to back small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-cap companies mainly operating in innovation, infrastructure, manufacturing and services but at the same time it will seek new opportunities, especially in the energy sector, from which it has been absent until now.
“We have identified energy as a key sector in Bulgaria and our involvement and our expertise in the sector would be very useful for Bulgaria and Bulgarians,” Tanasescu said.
Last year, the bank provided a total of 270 million euro in loans to Bulgaria, up by 48% from 2012, including a 50 million euro loan in support of the capital city's transport infrastructure programme until 2016. From 1992, when EIB started its partnership with Bulgaria, until last year the bank’s lending activity in the country amounted to a total of 3.7 billion euro, of which nearly 45% were allocated to transport. Over the past five years alone, EIB lent a total of 893 million euro to the Southeast European country. Projects in transport absorbed 11% of the funds, followed by industry, transport and services whose combined share stood at 10% of the total.