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Boosting Business in Western Balkans with New ENEF II Fund Launch

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) heralded a new phase of economic empowerment in the Western Balkans with the unveiling of the Enterprise Expansion Fund II (ENEF II)

This innovative investment fund, boasting a starting capital of €57 million from key backers including the EBRD, the European Union (EU), Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), and the German development bank KfW, is set to ignite the growth of high-potential companies across the region.

At a high-profile launch event in Belgrade, Banca Intesa announced its pioneering private sector investment of up to €7 million into ENEF II. This move, matched by an additional €7 million commitment from the European Union, propels the fund’s total investment capacity to an impressive €71 million. Banca Intesa’s engagement underscores its dedication to nurturing the sustainable development of local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

ENEF II aims to finance between 15 to 20 companies, offering a diverse portfolio of financial instruments ranging from minority equity investments and recapitalizations to hybrid debt-equity instruments and traditional lending. Individual investments are expected to span from half a million to €8 million, targeting leading SMEs in the Western Balkans.

The launch, orchestrated by the Embassy of Italy in Serbia, was graced by prominent ambassadors, including Emanuele Giaufret from the EU, Luca Gori from Italy, and Anke Konrad from Germany, highlighting the shared priorities of private sector growth and continued economic development in the Western Balkans. Over 70 companies from Serbia, the broader region, and Italy participated, keen to explore financing opportunities and potential collaborations.

Ambassador Giaufret of the EU lauded the initiative as a timely move, aligning with the EU’s preparations for a new growth plan and reform agenda for the Western Balkans. With a significant portion of the reforms focused on private sector development and business environment enhancement, the EU’s €26 million contribution to the collective efforts marks a strong commitment to bolstering SMEs.

Matteo Colangeli, EBRD’s Director for the Western Balkans, welcomed Banca Intesa’s participation, highlighting it as a new dimension to their extensive collaboration across Serbia and the region. The ENEF II fund, building on the success of its predecessor, is poised to make significant investments in local companies, with the EBRD playing a central advisory role.

As a major institutional investor in the Western Balkans, the EBRD continues to focus on Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, having invested over €18 billion in these economies. The ENEF II fund marks a significant step forward in the region’s economic development and sustainability efforts.

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