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Brussels, 26th March 2009

State aid: Commission approves temporary modification of Austrian risk-capital scheme to boost real economy

The European Commission has approved, under EC Treaty state aid rules, an Austrian framework measure which will temporarily modify the existing risk capital investment scheme 'Eigenkapitalgarantien', previously approved by the Commission on 18th October 2007 (see case number N 160/2007). The Commission found the proposed modifications to be in line with its 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 measure is limited in time and meets the investment thresholds. It is therefore compatible with Article 87(3) (b) of the EC Treaty, that permits aid to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State. The measure will be applicable until 31st December 2010.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said "Risk capital is important for young companies and has become scarce during the current crisis. By temporarily allowing higher investment tranches, Austria has demonstrated how Member States can take advantage of the Commission's Temporary Framework to intensify efforts aimed at tackling the effects of the crisis without giving rise to disproportionate distortions of competition".

The Austrian measure meets the conditions laid down in the Commission's Temporary Framework on state aid to the real economy during the crisis. In particular, the measure allows an increase of the maximum investment tranches from €1.5 million to €2.5 million over each 12 month period until 31st December 2010. The minimum private participation for risk capital investments is temporarily reduced from 50% to 30%.

The Austrian authorities expect that around €25 million will be disbursed on the basis of these modifications in 2009 and 2010, to facilitate access to risk capital.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number N 47d/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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