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Brussels, 7 th July 2009

State aid: Commission approves French Temporary Framework risk-capital scheme

The European Commission has approved, under EC Treaty state aid rules, a French measure allowing federal and local authorities to participate in risk-capital investment structures, in order to facilitate SMEs' access to risk capital. The measure is in line with the Commission's risk capital guidelines and Temporary Framework for state aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis (see IP/08/1993 ). In particular, the scheme respects the thresholds for investment tranches and private participation and is limited in time until 31 December 2010.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "The Commission has approved this additional French measure to boost the real economy. France has demonstrated how Member States can take advantage of the Commission's Temporary Framework to intensify efforts to tackle the effects of the crisis".

On 23 January 2009 the French authorities notified to the Commission the " Régime cadre temporaire d’interventions publiques en capital-investissement dans les PME", aimed at facilitating access to risk-capital to small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in their early stages of development.

The scheme will allow the French State, local authorities and other public bodies to set up or increase participations in risk-capital investment structures. These will be able to invest in SMEs in tranches of up to € 2.5 million over each 12-month period, until 31 December 2010. The minimum private participation in risk-capital investment structures will be 30%, in line with the Commission's Temporary Framework.

This is the second measure adopted by France in the field of risk-capital under the Temporary Framework. It is part of a series of French real economy schemes to address the current credit crunch already approved by the Commission. The previously approved schemes include:

  • Temporary scheme allowing subsidised guarantees to boost real economy (see IP/09/332 ) ;

  • Temporary scheme allowing aid to firms in the form of reduced interest rates (see IP/09/216 );

  • Temporary scheme to grant reduced interest loans to businesses producing green products (see IP/09/205 ) ;

  • Temporary scheme for businesses up to maximum of €500 000 (see IP/09/72 );

  • Temporary modification of the scheme of reduction of ISF taxation for investment in SMEs (see IP/09/406 ).

The decision will be made available under the case number N36/2009 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News .

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