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Tools to support the growth of the country and the competitiveness of businesses in 2017
With the new 2016-2020 Business Plan, Cassa depositi e prestuti has significantly expanded its scope of activity in order to support companies from a "country-wide system" perspective, working in synergy with financial institutions and seeking to understand the complexities of the changing business environment and the varying needs of the business and banking worlds.
After the years characterised by the public debt crisis (2010-2015), which CDP confronted with an extraordinary injection of liquidity in an attempt to maintain a constant flow of bank credit towards businesses, from 2016 - and thanks in part to the award of the qualification of "National Promotional Institute" to CDP under the 2016 Stability Law, and the consequent ability of the company to structure and manage financial instruments for delivering EU Structural Funds investments - CDP has reviewed its range of interventions, with a view to rendering its role in supporting access to credit by SMEs even more efficient.
Specifically, in 2017, in addition to the consolidated operational guidelines - or the structuring of subsidised credit instruments established under specific regulatory provisions, along with liquidity products for banks designed primarily to support access to credit for companies and reconstruction initiatives in the wake of disasters - the range of financial instruments has been expanded and reinforced, with the intention of supporting financial institutions in the implementation of measures to optimise regulatory capital, in order to facilitate the attribution of financial investments for companies.
In addition, proactive steps were taken to organise collaborations with foreign partners, to increase the positive leverage effect and to mobilise further resources. With regard to funding instruments, CDP has made €50 billion available over the years, with a view to supporting access to credit for businesses (the "Piattaforma Imprese", or Business Support Fund), areas affected by disasters ("Plafond Eventi Calamitosi", or Natural Disaster Funds) and families ("Plafond Casa", or Housing Fund) for the purchase and renovation of property.
Moreover, with the Capital Equipment Resourches which has enabled investments worth €3.7 billion to be channelled into SME businesses to date, the renewal of SME plants and machinery has also been supported, and CDP transfers the favourable conditions generated by the use of funding from the Bank of the Council of Europe to these companies. The funding support provided by financial institutions has also developed over the last two years through the signing of securitisation transaction senior and mezzanine notes, guaranteed by loan portfolios to SMEs. These operations are part of the ENSI Platform (EIF-NPIs Securitisation Initiative), created as part of the collaboration between the EIF and the main European National Promotional Institutions (including CDP) in order to facilitate the flow of credit to SMEs through the use of securitisation transactions.
In 2017, two operations of this type were implemented, with a total value of more than €130 million, which benefited around 6,500 companies. With reference to securitisation once again, in 2017, CDP was involved as an investor in securitisation transactions senior notes for publicly-secured non-performing loans (so-called "GACS"). Among the risk sharing and capital relief measures implemented, the EFSI Thematic Investment Platform for Italian SMEs guarantee platform entered into operation, created as part of the partnership with the European Investment Fund (EIF) in order to free up capital for financial institutions. The first operation, which came into full force in July 2017, consists in the granting of 80% counter-guarantees by CDP to the Guarantee Fund for SMEs. This is the main instrument used to support access to credit by SMEs as established by Law no. 662/96 and managed by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, on a portfolio of new guarantees which originated from the Fund, for a maximum value of €3 billion. Less than a year after the launch of operations, more than 16 thousand companies have received support, with around €1.3 billion granted in bank loans. For medium-sized companies, further guarantee operations are being developed by CDP and the European Investment Bank (EIB) on bank credit portfolios, with a view to mitigating the corresponding credit and concentration risks, thus facilitating the granting of new loans to Mid-Caps.
An additional initiative which is of particular interest to the financial institutions is the multi-regional AGRI platform: a financial instrument designed to favour the disbursement of new bank loans to agricultural and agro-industrial companies, courtesy of the guarantees issued by CDP, EIF and the EIB, alongside the European EAFRD funds made available to the regions taking part in the initiative.
Finally, CDP is actively involved in the management of subsidised credit instruments, and in particular the Revolving fund for support to enterprises and investments in research (FRI), with regard to which the Digital Agenda and Sustainable Industry calls to tender are currently open, in support of digitalisation and sustainable development. The FRI Social Enterprise call to tender is currently open for companies operating in the voluntary sector. In 2017, subsidised loans amounting to around €200 million were finalised and disbursed to around 80 companies, mainly in support of research and development projects featuring high levels of technological innovation.