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31-01-2017 16.12

Catalonia joins 'Equity Platform' to boost investment for SMEs and entrepreneurs

  • Upon invitation from the European Commission, the Catalan Finance Institute joins the NPI Equity Platform to boost capital investment for SMEs and entrepreneurs
Institut Catalą de Finances
The Institut Català de Finances (ICF) —Catalonia's promotional bank— was invited by the European Investment Fund (EIF) and the European Commission (EC) to participate in their NPI Equity Platform, an initiative established on the occasion of the Investment Plan for Europe. The aim of this platform is to strengthen cooperation with promotional banks and public financial institutions (National Promotional Institutions, NPIs) at a European level to boost economic growth.
 
The EIF and the European public banks will use the platform to promote the sharing of knowledge and best practices in the field of capital investment, offering strategic funding to SMEs, entrepreneurs and innovation projects. Furthermore, collaboration channels will also be identified and proposed, and initiatives put forward, for inclusion in the scope of action of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
 
The EIF, the EC and 30 banks and public financial institutions (NPIs) from 19 countries —among them, the Institut Català de Finances (ICF)— are members of the Platform. 
 
The Platform comprises a General Forum, involving all members, where best practices, various initiatives and their market development are examined; and a Consultative Forum (working group) consisting of 11 members elected by the EIF and the EC, that in the next two years will work on operational and technical issues, market gap detection, identifying cooperation opportunities, specifying investment standards and methodologies, and drawing up proposals. The ICF was invited by the EIF to join this working group, composed of nine national and two sub-state (Scotland and Catalonia) public banks, the EIF and the EC.
 
 
Activities of the Institut Català de Finances

The Institut Català de Finances (ICF) is Catalonia's promotional bank. Established in 1985, it is owned by the Government of Catalonia and regulated by an Act of the Catalan Parliament.
The mission of the ICF is to foster access to funding for enterprises in Catalonia —especially SMEs, Midcaps and entrepreneurs— in order to contribute to economic growth and job creation. The ICF works hand-in-hand with and complements the private financial sector, co-financing and co-investing with a view to leveraging resources for businesses.
 
The ICF has been identified by Banco de España and Eurostat as a financial institution legally bound by the European legislation on credit institutions. Most of the members of its governing bodies are independent experts. The ICF operates under market conditions and is funded on the markets. It is not dependent on public budgets, has financial and managerial autonomy, and does not add to public administration deficit/debt. 
 
Since 2011, the ICF has facilitated access to finance to over 13,600 companies (97% SMEs), for a total amount of more than €4.1 billion in loans and guarantees. As far as capital investment is concerned, the ICF has invested more than €150 million through 33 equity instruments. These, together with over €950 million provided by other investors, shape a potential investor of more than €1.1 billion —50% of which has already been invested in around 300 companies. Every euro invested by the ICF in private equity has helped to mobilise another €7 from other investors, thus expanding these instruments' investment capacity.
 
The ICF has been a member of the European Association of Public Banks (EAPB) since 2014, and was recently re-elected to the Board of the Association for the next two years. Through the EAPB, the ICF is working to design a public banking model for Europe, and together with regulators and supervisors, to develop standards and a framework for these institutions, with a view to contributing to economic growth in EU countries.
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