Credito Valtellinese launches SME lending fund

The Italian lender has taken advantage of the European Commission’s Risk Sharing Agreement scheme.

Credito Valtellinese, an Italian cooperative banking group, has won support from the European Investment Fund for a €100 million lending vehicle to support SMEs in Italy.

The deal is structured as a Risk Sharing Agreement (RSI), an initiative with the European Investment Bank Group and the European Commission. It allows Credito Valtellinese to provide up to €100 million in debt financing over the next two years, with half that amount guaranteed by the EIF.

It is the third such RSI deal in Italy, and the 13th in Europe as a whole. The initiative is designed to encourage banks to lend to SMEs, which typically struggle to raise debt financing for further investment, operating capital or research and development.

Europe’s banking community has reined in lending to SMEs, concentrating on larger credits which are less resource intensive. This has made the funding gap particularly acute in the mid-market and below.

The pan-European initiative mirrors similar ones active at a national level, such as the UK’s Funding for Lending Scheme and Business Growth Fund.