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Brussels, 16 March 2009

State aid: Commission approves modification of French risk capital scheme to boost real economy

The European Commission has approved, under EC Treaty state aid rules, a temporary increase in investment tranches of a French risk-capital scheme, approved by the Commission in March 2008 (see IP/08/434). The proposed modifications are in line with the Commission's 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 increase in investment tranches will be possible only until the end of 2010.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "The Commission has swiftly approved another French measure to boost the real economy. France has demonstrated how Member States can take advantage of the Commission's temporary anti-crisis framework to intensify efforts aimed at tackling the effects of the crisis ".

The measure notified by France on March 2 modifies an existing risk-capital scheme previously approved by the Commission (see IP/08/434). This scheme allows for reductions of the tax on wealth (ISF – impôt de solidarité sur la fortune) for individuals investing in small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), thus facilitating access to risk capital for these enterprises.

The temporary modification consists of raising the maximum investment tranches from €1.5 million to €2.5 million over each 12-months period. This amendment, approved under point 4.6.2 b of the Temporary framework for state aid measures (see IP/08/1993) will be valid until the end of 2010.

This measure is another example of a series of French real economy schemes to address the current credit crunch already approved by the Commission. The 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);
  • Financial support measures to the banking industry in France (refinancing and recapitalisation) (see IP/08/1900 and IP/08/1609).

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number N119/2009 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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