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Crédit Agricole and European Investment Fund sign operational agreement under FOSTER TPE-PME-AGRI Fund launched by Occitanie Region

    Date: 04 June 2019

On Monday 3 June, the Occitanie Region’s Vice-President responsible for agriculture Vincent Labarthe and Vice-President responsible for agri-business and viticulture Jean-Louis Cazaubon (representing the Region’s President Carole Delga), European Investment Fund (EIF) Chief Executive Pier Luigi Gilibert, and representatives of the four regional banks of Crédit Agricole (Nord Midi Pyrénées, Toulouse 31, Pyrénées Gascogne and Sud Méditerranée) signed an operational agreement strengthening the deployment of the FOSTER TPE-PME-AGRI Fund in the west of the region.

Access to finance is key factor for a very large number of agri-food companies and farms in Occitanie, in particular for micro-enterprises and SMEs. In order to meet their needs, the Occitanie Region created the FOSTER TPE-PME AGRI Fund in collaboration with the European Investment Fund (EIF). After signing an initial operational agreement for financing the agricultural sector with Banque Populaire Occitanie, the Region and the EIF are now boosting the deployment of FOSTER in western Occitanie by forging a new partnership with Crédit Agricole, a major player in agricultural financing.

This operational agreement for a €4.2m funding envelope (€1.97m of credit from the Region and €2.23m from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development – EAFRD) will help mobilise €21m of bank loans. It will strengthen the Region's leverage through financial instruments with:

  • diversification for easier access to financing thanks to this new banking operator;
  • targeted support for  farms, micro-enterprises and SMEs that promote agricultural production;
  • preferential lending terms and a free guarantee for the agricultural sector.

Projects to create and take over farms, processing equipment in the fruit and vegetable sector, construction of agricultural buildings, extensions and improvements to business facilities, and even fruit tree planting programmes will therefore be able to benefit from the FOSTER TPE-PME-AGRI fund.

This investment makes Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée the most advanced region in terms of the deployment of financial instruments for agricultural micro-enterprises and SMEs, and the most pro-active as regards the use of European structural funds in this sector.

"I welcome this new partnership with Crédit Agricole, which will help to consolidate our efforts to finance innovation and deploy the FOSTER TPE-PME-AGRI facility throughout the region. In conjunction with the European Investment Fund, the Occitanie Region is bolstering its position as a national and European leader in tools to support the financing of agricultural and agri-food businesses. In our region, where agriculture and agri-business make up the leading economic sector, support for the development and competitiveness of our businesses is a priority. Today, we are once again proving that the joint action of the Region and Europe is an effective lever for economic development and the creation of local jobs in our region,” commented President of the Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region Carole Delga.

Chief Executive of the European Investment Fund (EIF) Pier Luigi Gilibert said,

“This signing ceremony marks the first regional undertaking between the Crédit Agricole Group and the EIF, and I am delighted that, once again, Occitanie is at the forefront of European regions. The involvement of a leader in agricultural financing in the region makes it possible to multiply the impact of the FOSTER TPE-PME-AGRI Fund in promoting regional agricultural priorities and thus supporting the prosperity of Occitanie. As a flagship EIF project, FOSTER TPE-PME-AGRI is the most comprehensive financial instrument deployed currently in France.”

FOSTER TPE-PME: innovative financing tools for business development and local job creation

FOSTER TPE-PME is made up of four funds of funds – including the “Agri” fund – generating a substantial leverage effect for the benefit of businesses. With €135.5m from the Region and European funds (European Regional Development Fund – ERDF, and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development – EAFRD) and €7.5m from the EIF, FOSTER TPE-PME-AGRI is the largest global financial facility mobilising European funds currently operating in France. Its covers the entire financial engineering spectrum, from loans and guarantees to equity investments.

The FOSTER financing tools are implemented by financial operators selected by the EIF and acting on behalf of the Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region. Twelve operational agreements have now been concluded under this facility.

More than 2 700 businesses financed

Since the creation of the FOSTER TPE-PME Fund, more than 2 700 companies, including 200 agricultural businesses, in the 13 departments of Occitanie, have already benefited from innovative bank financing tools that help boost their activity, increase their competitiveness and create or maintain nearly 10 000 jobs.

This support amounts to €372m of funding, including €33m for the agricultural sector alone. In addition, more than 80% of the beneficiaries are businesses with less than ten employees.

By 2023, FOSTER TPE-PME-AGRI will have assisted 6 000 micro-enterprises, SMEs and farms, with a leverage effect of €1bn, thanks to the financing tools that are already operational in the region, in particular:

– loans to innovative companies;

– bank loan guarantees for micro-enterprises, SMEs and final beneficiaries in the agricultural and forestry sector;

– equity reinforcement measures.

Click here for comprehensive information on FOSTER facilities: www.laregion.fr/foster


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