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EIB to offer peer-to-peer lending to UK SMEs

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has begun discussions with peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle on a project that would offer funding to small and medium sized business in the UK. 29 Sep 2015

Funding Circle said that discussions had taken place with the EIB regarding the Funding Circle SME Income Fund, which intends to raise £150 million and will focus on small business lending in the UK and US.

Funding Circle said that it is "in discussion with the European Investment Bank in connection with a project to provide financing to UK SMEs via the UK marketplace"

"It is envisaged that [Funding Circle] may participate in this financing project, subject to board and EIB approval," Funding Circle said.

The EIB told the Financial Times that it will lend £100 million to UK small businesses through the fund.

"This is an interesting direct model for supporting small businesses, which has the potential to be quite efficient," the bank told the Financial Times.

The investment bank is also looking at the potential of the model elsewhere, it told the newspaper.

The EIB said in July that it had approved nearly €10 billion in loans for infrastructure across Europe and around the world. 

SME finance projects will be run in Austria, France, Germany, the UK, Tunisia, South Africa and Zambia, while environmental and renewable energy projects have been approved in Europe as well as Armenia, Kazakhstan and across Africa, the bank said at the time.

Five of the new projects will be supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the EIB. Set up within the EIB, the EFSI will manage a guarantee from the EU budget of €16bn and an EIB contribution of €5bn to trigger private and public investment of €315bn over the next three years, the EIB said.

The EIB also announced a £100 million loan package in August last year, through Societe Generale Equipment Finance (SGEF). The fund aimed to support investment by UK firms in industrial equipment over the next two years.