The European Commission has concluded that an extension of the scope of French development bank SFIL/CAFFIL's activities to also cover the financing of export credit loans was in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found in particular that these services are currently not provided to a sufficient extent by private players. SFIL/CAFFIL will remedy this market failure without requiring new state aid and without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.
SFIL/CAFFIL is a development bank created following the resolution of Franco-Belgian bank Dexia and the successor of Dexia Municipal Agency, whose main remit was to refinance public loans by issuing covered bonds. The role of development banks is to grant loans to sectors where there is insufficient availability of such loans from commercial banks because of the high risk or the low profitability involved. Currently, SFIL/CAFFIL's remit is to grant loans to French local authorities and French public hospitals.
France notified plans in late 2014 to entrust SFIL/CAFFIL also with the financing of new export credit transactions entered into by banks. The Commission found that for various reasons, including changes to the regulatory framework, French banks have significantly reduced their financing of export credit loans in recent years. In turn, exporters and importers in France encounter significant difficulties in setting up the financing of their export transactions. On this basis the Commission concluded that there currently is a market failure for providing these services in France.
SFIL/CAFFIL would raise the required funding in the markets through covered bonds to ensure the financing of those loans, and would not receive new capital from the State. Moreover, commercial banks would essentially act as intermediaries for the conclusion of new transactions and the management of the loans. They would compete for the provision of these services, which would be remunerated at a market price.
The Commission therefore concluded that the measure would not involve new state aid, neither in favour of SFIL/CAFFIL nor in favour of the banks.
The Commission also concluded that the aid measures granted to SFIL/CAFFIL in the context of the resolution of Dexia that the Commission had approved in December 2012 remain compatible with EU state aid rules after the extension of the scope of activities of SFIL/CAFFIL.
The non-confidential version of the current decision will be made available under the case number SA.39690 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.