Strategic Banking Corporation lends €544m to SMEs
State-owned lender issues loans to 12,590 enterprises in first 21 months in operation
Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland managing director Nick Ashmore. Photograph: Alan Betson
The State-owned Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) issued €544 million to 12,590 small- and medium-sized enterprises in its first 21 months in operation.
Some 84 per cent of SMEs taking out SBCI loans did so for the purpose of investing in their business, the company said on Wednesday. The average loan size during the period was €43,200.
The SBCI was set up in 2014 to provide low-cost loans to small businesses as the country’s banks continued to recover from the financial crisis. It started issuing loans in March of last year.
“We have introduced a range of lower-cost funding options and greater competition in the market and our progress shows we are bringing real benefits to a number of SMEs in a variety of ways,” said Nick Ashmore, SBCI’s chief executive. “Our business is evolving and market progress but focus remains squarely on powering SME growth.”
The interest rate on SBCI loans averaged 1.15 percentage points below that of market rates, the company said.
Last year, SBCI expanded the range of lenders through which its funding and products are available to Ulster Bank, First Citizen Finance, Bibby Financial services and Fexco. It already had partnerships with AIB, Bank of Ireland, Finance Ireland and Merrion Fleet.