The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) has teamed up with Fexco Asset Finance to create a €70m (£59.42m) loan fund for Irish small and medium-sized businesses.

The funding package will offer SMEs a 1.57% discount on their loans and is intended for firms aiming to lease assets such as plant machinery, specialist equipment and vehicles.

Fexco said its product offering currently covers 68 different asset types, including fixed equipment, plant and machinery, production lines, medical/dentistry and green energy. The leasing of cars and vans is also covered.

SBCI chief executive Nick Ashmore said: "It has been a busy and exciting year for SBCI with the addition of four new lenders. Looking ahead to 2017, we will continue to play our part in supporting growth in Irish businesses through the management of the Credit Guarantee Scheme, launching the new Agri Cash Flow Support loan for farmers, and driving awareness of our lower cost finance."

SBCI's collaboration with Kerry-based financial services company Fexco – its eighth such partner – means the corporation has now provided €906m in lower-cost loans. In July it announced that it had facilitated over 8,600 loans since it was established in early 2015.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said: "Today’s announcement is another example of the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to increase the availability of credit for SMEs and the provision of supplementary sources of finance."