The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide in €400m (£350m) in wholesale facilities to Greek banks, aimed at companies seeking to lease equipment and premises.

The scheme is the first dedicated leasing finance initiative in Greece by the EIB. Intended to support the expansion of leasing finance for equipment and real estate, it will back financing by the leasing arms of four Greek banks.

The rollout has been confirmed with Alpha Leasing, Eurobank Leasing, Piraeus Leasing and the National Bank of Greece’s Ethniki Leasing.

Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank vice president responsible for lending operations in Greece, said: “Ensuring that companies can access finance is crucial for economic growth. Access to leasing finance is key for companies involved in production, agriculture, construction and other economic sectors, and the European Investment Bank is pleased to strengthen our successful cooperation with leading banks in Greece to the leasing sector.

“[The] initiative will enable companies across the country to build on their strengths and access new machines and better premises. The combined expertise and local knowledge of the dedicated leasing arms … will help firms across the country to expand turnover and create jobs in the future.”

The initiative will be guaranteed by the Greek government. It will provide additional incentives for companies supporting youth employment.

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The €400m scheme follows the implementation of a €1bn (£882m) EIB financing programme for SMEs and mid-caps in Greece. The lending programme launched in December 2016 and was implemented in cooperation with Alpha Bank, Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, and Pancretan Cooperative Bank.

Within 18 months, the scheme enabled more than 660 companies to expand activities and enter new business markets, according to the EIB. In response to the significant demand by Greek companies for financing, the scheme was expanded by an additional €50m.