The Institut Català de Finances (ICF) to be transformed into Catalonia’s public bank
The Catalan Government approves a decree to transform the Catalan Institute of Finance (ICF) into a publicly-owned bank to support business and particularly SMEs. With this change, the Catalan Executive’saim is “to strengthen the ICF’s role as a tool to support business and the productive economy”, as the Government’s Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, told the press on Tuesday. The measure is part of the Parliamentary Stability Agreement signed between the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalism Coalition (CiU).
Barcelona (ACN ).- On Tuesday the Catalan Government approved a decree that authorises the Catalan Institute of Finance (Institut Català de Finances, ICF ) to take all the necessary steps for its transformation into Catalonia’s public bank, in accordance with the requirements issued by Spanish and European regulatory bodies. With this change, the Catalan Executive’s aim is “to strengthen the ICF’s role as a tool to support business and the productive economy”, as the Government’s Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, told the press. It will mostly focus on providing liquidity to entrepreneurial projects, particularly from SMEs. With Tuesday’s decision, the ICF will be constituted as a corporation with full independence from the Catalan Government and its agencies and departments. The measure was part of the Parliamentary Stability Agreement signed between the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU). Both parties agreed on creating a set of state structures on the path to statehood within Catalonia’s self-determination process.
The decree approved today by the Catalan Government modifies and simplifies the current legal status of the Catalan Institute of Finance (ICF), according to Homs. As a result of these legislative changes, the ICF will become a corporation – segregating its banking business – with full independence from the Catalan Government and its dependent institutions. The ICF will be subject to regulations exclusively applied to banks and to the control of Spanish and European regulatory bodies. Furthermore, the ICF will adapt the structure of its governing bodies and management to the specific rules of these regulatory bodies.
The aim of the measure is to enable the ICF to act as an institution offering loans to businesses under the European Banking Union. The Catalan Government emphasised that the new body will work with transparency and full independence, subject to the regulations on credit institutions. The ICF’s new mission will be to consolidate and strengthen its role as a tool to support Catalonia’s businesses and the productive economy.
An instrument for economic recovery
The Catalan Finance Institute (ICF) is a financial institution founded in 1985 attached to the Catalan Finance and Economy Ministry. The main objective of the organisation was to promote and facilitate access to liquidity to businesses based in Catalonia, mainly SMEs and the self-employed, acting as a complement to the private financial sector. The Institute has made various products and services related to corporate finance available to companies, focusing on business loans and guarantees, as well asventure capital activity.
In 2011, the ICF launched an action plan to help the economic recovery by boosting entrepreneurial finances, focusing on SMEs and the self-employed. This type of business makes up the greatest part of Catalonia’seconomy. In addition it decided to prioritize the private sector over the public sector.
Since then, the ICF has facilitated access to finance for more than 9,000 companies, worth over €2 billion. For 2013 the ICF has provided companies with €500 million in loans and guarantees for investment and working capital.
To conduct its business the ICF turns to national and international financial markets. Its resources do not come from the Catalan Government budget and, therefore, its activities do not generate deficit or debt to the Catalan Executive.
Any company can access the ICF
Any company with headquarters or operating in Catalonia can apply for funding from the ICF. In order to facilitate universal access, the Institute has enhanced its website www.icf.cat, through which any company can apply directly for a loan or a guarantee through a specific application.
In line with the aim of bringing the ICF closer to rural areas and firms spread throughout Catalonia, in late 2011 the company created a network of financial promoters that extends throughout Catalonia. This network is made up of companies and organisations with extensive experience in business consultancy that inform their customers about the most appropriate ICF product to fund their entrepreneurial projects. In addition the network can assist the companies in the application process for ICF funding. Currently, the network consists of more than one hundred companies and organisations.