ZAGREB, Feb 12 (Croatia Sun News) – The Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) granted HRK 5.8 billion (€784m) worth of loans to businesses last year, an increase of 3% over the previous year, and supported 1,848 projects, 88% of which related to investment, a press conference was told in Zagreb on Wednesday.
When looking at the bank’s overall financial activity, which includes the provision of loans and guarantees, the HBOR provided support for over 2,400 business projects worth over HRK 7 billion (€946m), which is a 3% increase in the amount granted, the bank’s management board member, Hrvoje Cuvalo, told the press conference at which the HBOR presented its preliminary business results for 2019 and the business strategy for 2020-2024.
Of the total number of loans, 89% were granted to small and medium-sized enterprises, slightly less compared with the previous two years. Cuvalo said that this was due to increased investment in infrastructure projects, which were backed with HRK 2.4 billion (€324m) last year.
CEO Tamara Perko said that the HBOR’s strategy for the next five years included five key points, highlighting the bank’s role as the driver of innovation and sustainable development in Croatia.
The five-year strategy is aimed at promoting the development of equity and quasi-equity markets, boosting competitiveness with emphasis on innovation, digital transformation and Industry 4.0, promoting internationalisation and globalisation of the Croatian economy, developing a climate and energy neutral economy based on energy efficiency, renewable energy and environmental protection, and supporting economically and socially balanced and sustainable regional, rural and urban development.
Speaking of developing equity and quasi-equity markets, Perko said that there was an annual market gap of €120 million with regard to venture and private equity investment, as a result of which Croatia is three times below the EU average.
The HBOR is developing a student loan scheme under which students would be able to study abroad, but would be obliged to return to Croatia after completing their studies.
Perko said that the HBOR had reduced the number of its loan schemes from 25 to nine and had also cut interests rates.