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EBRD launches ENEF II for the Western Balkans

Banca Intesa joins anchor investors

  • EBRD launches the EU-supported ENEF II investment fund for SMEs and mid-cap companies in the Western Balkans with capital worth €71 million
  • ENEF II to provide local companies with equity, quasi-equity and debt financing, and pre- and post-investment advisory support
  • Banca Intesa joins ENEF II as the fund’s first private-sector investor following the initial contributions of the EBRD, the EU, Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and Germany’s Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), with the support of the European Union, has announced the launch of the Enterprise Expansion Fund II (ENEF II), an investment fund that targets high-potential small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-cap companies in the Western Balkans, providing them with access to tailored financing.

The ENEF II has raised €57 million in capital commitments from its initial investors, which include the EBRD, the European Union (EU), Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and Germany’s Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau.

At the official launch event held in Belgrade, Serbia, Banca Intesa announced its intention to invest up to €7 million in the ENEF II, marking the first private-sector contribution to the fund. The EU (through the EBRD) will match this investment, further bolstering the fund’s resources to €71 million. Joining the fund’s initial investors, Banca Intesa further solidifies its commitment to fostering local entrepreneurship and sustainable growth.

The ENEF II provides market-leading companies in the Western Balkans with a range of financing instruments, including equity, quasi-equity and tailor-made debt financing, and aims to build a portfolio comprising 15-20 companies, with individual investments ranging from €0.5 million to €8 million. Beyond providing expansion and growth capital, the ENEF II complements its investments with comprehensive pre- and post-investment advisory, empowering businesses with the skills and tools they need to build resilient and thriving enterprises. The fund also aims to support companies’ commitments to sustainability by embedding environmental, social and governance (ESG) best practices into its financing instruments.

Organised in partnership with the Embassy of Italy in Serbia, the launch event in Belgrade was attended by Emanuele Giaufret, EU Ambassador to Serbia; Luca Gori, Italian Ambassador to Serbia; and Anke Konrad, German Ambassador to Serbia, underscoring the shared priorities in advancing private-sector growth and economic development in the Western Balkans. More than 70 companies from Serbia, the wider region and Italy participated in the event to learn more about financing opportunities and explore potential cooperation.

Matteo Colangeli, EBRD Regional Director for the Western Balkans, said: “We very much welcome Banca Intesa’s participation in the ENEF II, making it the first commercial investor to contribute to the fund’s capital. This will add a new dimension to our extensive cooperation with Banca Intesa in Serbia and the region. We look forward to partnering closely in providing much-needed growth capital to innovative and high potential SMEs.”

Darko Popović, President of the Executive Board of Banca Intesa, said: “I am extremely proud that, in strengthening our cooperation with the EBRD, we continue to find new ways to empower SMEs in our country and other Western Balkan countries, thus helping to strengthen business ties, the economies of individual countries, and the prosperity of the entire region. As the first private investor, Banca Intesa – part of the Intesa Sanpaolo International Subsidiary Banks Division – is committed to investing up to €7 million in the ENEF II, from which the funds will be disbursed to clients with significant growth potential, along with the advisory support of EBRD consultants. In cooperation with the EBRD, we have so far contracted a total of more than €466 million, and are working towards achieving our ESG goals through this project, in accordance with the business plan of our parent group, Intesa Sanpaolo.”

Emanuele Giaufret, Ambassador and head of EU Delegation to the Republic of Serbia, said: “This initiative comes at the right moment as the EU is at the height of preparations of the new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans and Reform Agenda. An important part of the planned reform measures is aimed at private sector development and improving the business environment to increase economic growth, in which the SME sector plays an essential part. We are therefore proud to be investing as much as €26 million into pooled Team Europe efforts and with our partners at EBRD, KfW and CDP we will be stepping up our long-standing support to small and medium enterprises, making Serbia more competitive at the European and global level

The ENEF II is a new investment fund that was established with EU support, building on the success of its predecessor fund, the ENEF. The ENEF II is advised by the EBRD. Dedicated to SMEs and mid-caps in the Western Balkans, the ENEF II has already started investing in local companies.

The EBRD is one of the largest institutional investors in the Western Balkans, which include the economies of AlbaniaBosnia and HerzegovinaKosovoMontenegroNorth Macedonia and Serbia. The region continues to be a strategic area and focus for the Bank, which has invested more than €18 billion in its economies.

By Stasha Igrutinovic

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