LONDON, 13-Jan-2020 — /EuropaWire/ — EBRD announced it is lending up €100 million to the third-largest bank in Croatia Erste Bank Croatia (EBC), part of Erste Group, in support of the tourism industry in Croatia and Montenegro. The focus of the credit line will be on helping private hospitality enterprises to expand their businesses through sustainable investments in hotels and other tourism operations.
The loan is part of EUR 250 million EBRD Inclusive Tourism Framework for the Eastern Mediterranean region, and the Erste Bank Croatia is the the first financial institution to receive a loan under this framework.
Particularly, Erste Bank Croatia’s loan will aim at improving employment opportunities for young people and women by training them and establishing new or substantially enhanced cooperation programmes with local universities or vocational schools. Furthermore, it will also promote equal opportunity practices and policies and will as well strengthen the development of backward linkages to local suppliers in the hospitality sector by coordinating relevant stakeholders. The ultimate goal is to develop better local value chains and to deepen integration of local farmers in Croatia and Montenegro.
EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti is on a visit to Zagreb in Croatia for the official signature of the deal.
He made the following comment on the loan:
“We are delighted to provide much-needed capital for the sustainable growth and further development of the tourism sector in Croatia and Montenegro. Tourism is a major driver of growth in both countries and we expect this investment to open up new opportunities for local businesses as well as create new jobs. It demonstrates how our new framework will enable the EBRD to reach out to more clients, including smaller ones.”
Commenting on becoming the first partner bank under the EBRD Inclusive Tourism Framework for the Eastern Mediterranean, Christoph Schoefboeck, President of the Management Board of Erste Bank Croatia (EBC), said:
“We are very pleased to become the first partner bank under the EBRD Inclusive Tourism Framework for the Eastern Mediterranean and we look forward to continuing and further deepening the longstanding and successful cooperation between our two institutions. Support for tourism is one of our fundamental strategic determinants and we believe that through this credit facility we will enable our clients to realise numerous successful projects in this segment, which will enable them to further strengthen and position themselves in the domestic as well as international markets.”
Erste Bank Croatia (EBC) controls some 15 per cent market share in Croatia and runs a network of 128 branches across the country while in Montenegro its subsidiary Erste Bank AD. Podgorica relies on a network of 17 branches. Both banks EBRD and EBC are longstanding partners working together on micro and small business loans, including a credit line under the Western Balkans Sustainable Energy Finance Framework (WeBSEFF), the EBRD Trade Facilitation Programme and the EBRD’s participation in a kuna-denominated bond issued by EBC.
On the side of Croatia the country has received financial support on 215 projects from EBRD to date for a total amount in the range of €3.88 billion. EBRD has been active across all areas of the economy in Croatia but more specifically in the infrastructure, corporate, financial institutions and energy sectors. The bank is also committed to policy dialogue, capital market development and regulatory reform in the country.