Strategic Banking Corporation lends €113m to SMEs in first quarter

€657m of State agency’s funding has been drawn down by SMEs since it was founded

Nicholas Ashmore: said SBCI’s long-term goal is to cover costs rather than to accumulate profits. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Nicholas Ashmore: said SBCI’s long-term goal is to cover costs rather than to accumulate profits. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The State-owned Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) issued €113 million to 2,700 small or medium-sized enterprises by the end of the first quarter of this year.

The State agency said on Tuesday that €657 million of its money has been drawn down by 15,000 SMEs in loans since it was founded in October 2014.

The biggest user of SBCI loans was the agricultural sector, while the southwestern region was the location where its loans were most popular. In a statement, the organisation said that 84 per cent of loans were used by SMEs to invest in growing their business.

In 2016 the SBCI signed three new “on-lenders”, or organisations lending money borrowed from the agency, to which it has committed €155 million. This brings the total figure of committed funds since inception to €906 million.

The organisation’s annual report highlights an operating loss of €1.6 million, down from the previous year’s deficit of €3.7 million, and an increase in operating expenses to €4.8 million – up from €4.4 million the previous year.

SBCI’s chief executive, Nicholas Ashmore, was paid a salary of €250,000 for the year – unchanged on 2015.

Commenting on the group’s operating loss, Mr Ashmore wrote in the annual report that it is due to “the lag in the generation of income as our on-lender partners come on board and draw down funds.

“Longer term, our financial goal is to cover our costs and otherwise to convert our financial advantage into reduced borrowing rates for SMEs rather than to accumulate profits”, he said.

The company’s sole shareholder is the Minister for Finance, to whom no dividend was paid in 2016.