The ICF increased its activity by 17% due to the promotion of agricultural and sustainability projects

06 March 2024

The public promotion bank of Catalonia financed a total of 1,657 companies in 2023, of which 98% were entrepreneurs and SMEs. The financial institution allocated 77 million euros to finance 1,236 Catalan farmers and ranchers in a context marked by inflation and drought. One out of every two euros granted in the form of loans and guarantees was allocated to projects with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria.

The Catalan Institute of Finance (ICF) has once again consolidated its role as a public promotional bank. The bank increased its new activity by 17% in 2023 compared to the previous year, reaching a total of 641 million euros between loans, guarantees, and venture capital, which is 94.5 million euros more than in 2022. The ICF also financed three times as many companies compared to the previous year, reaching a total of 1,657, of which 98% were entrepreneurs and SMEs.

The CEO, Vanessa Servera, highlighted that the ICF's activity "has grown in the last year as much as support operations for the primary sector have grown and as much as funding for promoting social and sustainability projects has grown." Most of the beneficiaries of the financing granted by public banks have been farmers and stockbreeders (1,236), to which a total of 77 million euros have been allocated within the framework of the ICF Agroliquidity loan facility.

"From the ICF, we have supported the country's farmers at a time when it is seriously affected by the increase in prices, the worst drought since we have records, and the rest of the consequences of the climate crisis. In 2024, we intend to continue accompanying this sector and provide it with more funding," said Servera.

In line with its strategic objective of promoting sustainability, the green transition, and the supply of social rental housing in Catalonia, one in two euros (52%) granted by the ICF in the form of loans and guarantees has been allocated to projects with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. "The commitment to sustainability explains much of the increase in our activity in 2023. While total activity in loans and guarantees has increased by €119 million compared to the previous year, funding allocated exclusively to projects with ESG criteria has grown by €109 million," said the CEO.

25% more funding for entrepreneurs and companies

Loan and guarantee operations are the bank's main activity. Of the 641 million euros mobilized in 2023 by the ICF, 597.2 million euros have been allocated to financing entrepreneurs, entities, and companies with loans and guarantees, 25% more than the previous year. The Catalan public bank also consolidates its commitment to facilitate the repayment of these loans by closing the year with an average repayment term of 10 years.

Public banks strengthen their presence throughout Catalonia

The CEO also highlighted that "in the last year, the ICF has made a significant effort to expand its network of commercial delegates and get closer to the whole territory," an objective that the entity wants to "strengthen throughout 2024."

By region, compared to 2022, public promotion banks have multiplied their financing in loans and guarantees in various regions, such as Ponent, Terres de l'Ebre, or Camp de Tarragona, a boost that is mainly explained by the deployment of the ICF Agroliquidity loan line and the fruits of the work being carried out by the new commercial delegations.

On the other hand, activity is reduced in Barcelona and the metropolitan area, which, despite this, continues to be the region that concentrates the bulk of the loans granted by the ICF.

A tool at the service of reindustrialization, green transition, and growth

Servera also stated that the ICF "is a tool at the service of Catalonia's strategic objectives to promote reindustrialization, the green transition, housing policies, economic growth, and the competitiveness of the Catalan business fabric," as shown by the data on the distribution by sectors of the financing granted by the entity in the form of loans and guarantees throughout 2023.

In this sense, manufacturing industries are the sector that benefits the most with 25.2% of the financing granted by Catalan public banks. Trade, tourism, and transport are in second place with 22.5%, followed by the agri-food industry and the primary sector (17%), social housing, and public works (10.5%) and health and social services (9.7%).

A total of €44 million in venture capital investments

ICF investments in venture capital, those aimed at startups with expectations of high growth, reached 43.8 million euros in 2023, experiencing a fall of 36% compared to 2022, an evolution that is in line with the widespread fall that has occurred in the sector as a whole after the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. as planned.

In terms broken down, 25% of the ICF's venture capital activity has been carried out through internal funds and 75% through external funds. "We have invested in companies with relevant growth projects with a great impact on the territory, such as the operation with Grup Boix, and 100% of the investment in funds has been made with Catalan managers," explained Servera.

Finally, the cumulative amount of the restructurings, the operations for which the institution modifies the conditions of the loans to favor companies' ability to pay, has reached 63.5 million euros, 45.6% less than in 2022, a fall explained by the overcoming of the coronavirus crisis.

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