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Rome, 28 May 2014 - Cassa depositi e prestiti announces that the company’s Board of Directors, meeting today under the chairmanship of Franco Bassanini, has authorized the subscription of an investment commitment of up to €350 million in two funds sponsored and operated by Fondo Italiano d’Investimento SGR Spa, in which Cdp holds a stake of 12.50%. The subscription of the investments will be completed by the end of the summer. More specifically: Minibond fund Up to €250 million will be invested in the launch of a private debt (“minibonds”) fund of funds, intended to foster the creation, through a selective process, of minibond funds and to leverage the resources deployed in support of small and medium-sized Italian enterprises. The initiative is taking place in a financial environment marked by credit conditions that are prompting companies to seek out alternative financing instruments to complement bank credit. As a result of these developments, since 2012 Europe has witnessed a rapid expansion in bond issues as a source of funds. On the regulatory front, in Italy the Development Decree introduced major legislative changes designed to facilitate the issue of “minibonds”. The market at which the operation is targeted, namely SMEs with the size and the financial and performance characteristics compatible with the issue of minibonds, can be estimated at about 33 thousand SMEs with revenues of between €5 million and €250 million.
Venture capital fund Up to €100 million will be allocated to the launch of a venture capital fund of funds, with the objective of making an active contribution to the formation and development of innovative start-ups in Italy. Thanks to Cdp’s contribution, Fondo Italiano d’Investimento will have the funds to launch Italy’s largest venture capital fund of funds, with up to €200 million in resources. The fund will invest in venture capital funds of funds devoted to investing in technology transfer and providing seed capital, early and late-stage capital and expansion/growth capital. In Italy, this market suffers from a structural shortage of financial resources. In fact, investments of this form in Italy are well below the European average. In 2012 (the most recent data available), venture capital investment in Italy amounted to €135 million, compared with €3.2 billion at the European level. Governments, acting through public agencies, are the main investors in this asset class, providing about 40% of the financial resources available to start-ups. Italy therefore offers considerable opportunity for growth, which Cassa Depositi e Prestiti is seeking to promote and encourage through its own investment.
With the minibond and venture capital initiatives, Cdp hopes to act as a catalyst and to foster the participation of other investors.