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CEB and Raiffeisen provide 100 million euros finance package for SMEs inBosnia and Herzegovina.

Loans to help small and medium-sized enterprises grow

The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) and RaiffeisenInternational have signed two loan agreements last night under which CEBwill provide a total of 50 million euros of long term funding for thebenefit of small and medium-sized enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina.The loans, with a tenor of up to 12 years and a grace period of up totwo years, will be granted to Raiffeisen Bank Bosna i Hercegovina andRaiffeisen Leasing Bosna i Hercegovina.

The funds will then be made available to small and medium-sizedenterprises, giving them more access to finance for the expansion oftheir businesses. Since CEB only finances 50 per cent of each project,the balance will be financed by Raiffeisen; the total financing packagefor small and medium-sized enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina willtherefore amount to 100 million euros.

Imre Tarafas, Vice-Governor of the CEB, said:"Bosnia and Herzegovina isa perfect example of the importance of our cooperation with RaiffeisenInternational. Over the years, this country has paid a heavy price dueto war, as well as to political and economic transition. Today, itsuffers from the highest unemployment rate in Europe and one of thehighest in the world. These facilities will help to reduce unemploymentand foster prosperity in the country."

Herbert Stepic, CEO of Raiffeisen International, added,"We areparticularly delighted to work with the CEB on such an important projectin a country that deserves much support. SMEs are the backbone of anyeconomy. Providing competitive financing opportunities to SMEs is aneffective way to help the economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina move forwardand create jobs. We are looking forward to working with CEB on otherprojects to promote private initiative and the growth of the economiesall across Central and Eastern Europe."

Set up in 1956, the CEB (Council of Europe Development Bank) has 39member states. 17 Central and Eastern European countries are listedamong the member states. As a major instrument of the policy ofsolidarity in Europe, the Bank finances social projects by makingavailable to them resources raised in conditions reflecting the qualityof its rating (AAA with Standard& Poor''s, Fitch Ratings and Moody''s).It thus grants loans to its member states, to financial institutions andto local authorities for the financing of projects in the social sector,in accordance with its Articles of Agreement.

Raiffeisen International operates the largest banking network in CEE. 18markets are covered by subsidiary banks, finance leasing companies andtwo representative offices. Approximately 12.5 million customers areattended to through more than 2,900 business outlets. RaiffeisenInternational is a fully consolidated subsidiary of RaiffeisenZentralbank Osterreich AG (RZB), which owns 70 per cent of the commonstock. The remaining 30 per cent is free float, the shares are traded onthe Vienna Stock Exchange.

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