OP Financial Group an intermediary for EFSI guarantee programme in Finland

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 30.3.2016 10.30
Press release
The European Investment Fund and OP Financial Group signed the first guarantee programme under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) concering Finland. Financing from the EFSI is part of the EU investment programme with the aim to enhance sustainable economic growth and competitiveness.

The guarantee signed by EIF and OP Group concerns a total of EUR 150 million as corporate loans. The OP Group may grant loans covered by the guarantee via its 180 member cooperative banks in Finland, as well as in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Loans will be granted to innovative SMEs and small mid-cap companies with a staff of no more than 500.

- OP Financial Group is the first intermediary organisation for EFSI financing in Finland.  As shown by this guarantee programme, the EFSI is a concrete instrument for promoting the development, investments and growth of companies, in this case SMEs. I am sure that the step taken by the OP Group will boost the interest in learning more about and utilising this new source of financing, says Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn.

According to President of the OP Financial Group Reijo Karhinen, small and medium-sized enterprises have a key role in bringing the Finnish economy back on the growth path. - We have lots of companies which have the potential to grow and create new jobs. Through the EFSI the companies may now have access to reasonably priced financing for innovation and product development. Positive signals are greatly needed in the Finnish economy. I am most pleased that the OP Financial Group was selected as the first EFSI intermediary in Finland.

The guarantee programme InnovFin (InnovFin = EU Finance for Innovators), signed by the EIF and OP Financial Group today, is the third financial arrangement of the EFSI concerning Finland. Before this, EUR 75 million of EFSI financing has been granted to Metsä Fibre biorefinery in Äänekoski and EUR 30 million to the recapitalisation of the Open Ocean venture capital fund.

The EFSI offers a significant new source of financing as we aim to turn investments into growth in Finland.  There will be no economic growth before investments, and private investments in particular, are on the rise. In Finland private sector investments have declined much more than elsewhere in Europe, as much as 30% from 2007.

- After the quite promising start, the fund has not been utilised in Finland as had been hoped for. Economic uncertainties have made those who should undertake projects cautious.  Hopefully the solutions to improve our competitiveness together with the negotiations now launched on the labour market will put investments on the right track, says Minister Rehn.

­- I have tried to encourage key actors under the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, i.e. Finnvera, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation TEKES and Finnish Industry Investment Ltd, to search for a suitable role as intermediaries for EFSI financing. The objective set in the autumn to channel at least EUR one billion of EFSI financing in its different forms to Finland is still valid. 

Inquiries:

Jussi Yli-Lahti, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 50 396 1072

OP Communications, tel. +358 50 523 9904