‘High-level dialogue’ promised
to free up access to finance.


Two of the EU Commission’s top
officials have pledged to introduce new tools to improve access to
finance for small and medium-sized enterprises across Europe – and
as a result asset finance could get a boost, too.

At last month’s SME Finance Forum in Brussels,
Antonio Tajani, EU commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship,
and Michel Barnier, commissioner for internal market and services,
said they intended to “facilitate SMEs’ access to finance” to
support recovery across Europe.

According to recent data from the European
Central Bank, bank credit standards are still tight (unchanged in
the first quarter of 2010 compared with the final quarter of 2009),
demand for loans has declined by 13% and almost 20% of SMEs’ loan
applications are still being rejected.

The EU commissioners have proposed to “upgrade
the SME Finance Forum into a high-level dialogue between financial
institutions and SMEs”, monitoring market developments and
recommending concrete actions to improve access to finance.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

According to Fabio Pirotta, spokesman for
Tajani, although the topic of asset finance was not explicitly
raised during the conference, “these discussions will also have
implications for the financing activities of SMEs through leasing
and asset finance”.

The EU Commission’s Competitiveness and
Innovation Framework Programme – which runs from 2007 to 2013 –
specifically mentions leasing as a means to support SMEs with
growth potential, to reduce difficulties in “accessing finance
either due to the perceived higher risk or to the lack of
sufficient collateral”.

Pirotta added that the high-level dialogue
will, among other things, focus on strengthening the collaboration
between European banks and SMEs “in order to regain mutual trust”,
and between the EU Commission and the European Investment Bank to
maximise the effectiveness of financing programmes for SMEs – all
areas where leasing companies could be involved.

Leasing associations – including Leaseurope,
the body representing the leasing industry at European level – have
said they are monitoring closely these developments. A spokesman
for the UK’s Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) said that,
although the FLA was not actively involved in the process, it is
“aware of this issue and has a watching brief”.

Both lessors and lessees agree on the
importance of improving access to finance.

Vincent Rupied, director of corporate relations
for fleet lessor Arval, said: “Leasing in general is a fundamental
component of any SME finance strategy, if consideration is taken of
its actual role – one third of investments funded by leasing
throughout Europe – and also because of its rationalising virtues,
most valuable in troubled times.”

Rupied added: “Operating lease in particular
has a key role to play for SMEs since it takes away from them the
risks on resale values that they are not properly equipped to value
and bear. When associated with comprehensive service packages, like
in the fleet business, the full service operating lease is the
nearest you can get to the true cost of ownership of assets.”