The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a €5 million loan and technical assistance to United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) to finance investments that will improve the energy efficiency of residential buildings in Bulgaria.
The financing is part of the EBRD’s strategy to help the countries where it invests to address climate change and become less energy intensive.
The loan is being provided under the Residential Energy Efficiency Credit Line (REECL), a pioneering framework established by the EBRD in 2005 and extended twice due to strong market demand.
EBRD funds will be used for on-lending to homeowners, housing associations and privately-owned service providers. UBB will start on-lending in mid-July.
Under the REECL framework, UBB and end-borrowers will also benefit from technical assistance and grants sponsored by the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund.
Betsy Nelson, EBRD Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, said: “We are pleased to extend new financing and technical assistance to our long-standing partner United Bulgarian Bank. With its strong market position, committed team and a country-wide network, UBB will be instrumental in providing finance for much-needed energy efficiency improvements in the housing sector.”
Bulgaria is the most energy and carbon intensive country in the European Union (EU). The residential sector accounts for over 20 per cent of the national end-user energy consumption and is the third largest energy consumer after transport and industry. Domestic heating accounts for 70 per cent of Bulgaria’s residential energy consumption.
As Bulgaria is aligning its legislation with EU standards, improving energy efficiency in all sectors of the economy is a key element of its energy policy.
Stilian Vatev, Chief Executive Officer of UBB, said: “As a third consecutive joint initiative with the EBRD, via the noteworthy REECL, United Bulgarian Bank is providing support to Bulgarian households in their efforts to reduce the costs of one of the largest spending items of a family – heating. The new agreement is a natural continuation of the credit line, which has recorded high demand and effective performance. It is our absolute belief that this new initiative will achieve further success in reducing household expenses and improving standards of living for Bulgarian families.”
UBB is one of the largest banks in Bulgaria, providing universal banking services through its network of almost 200 branches. It is part of the financial group of National Bank of Greece. The EBRD was a shareholder in UBB between 1997 and 2004.
Focusing on energy efficiency is part of the EBRD’s overall strategy of helping to re-energise the transition process in its regions according to three key priorities: strengthening resilience, promoting integration, and addressing global and regional challenges.
The EBRD is one of the largest institutional investors in Bulgaria. To date, the Bank has invested over €3.3 billion in more than 220 projects in the country.
The Bank’s current strategy in Bulgaria focuses on strengthening financial sector intermediation through targeted investments and improved governance; enhancing competitiveness of companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises, through improved efficiency, governance and innovation; and narrowing the infrastructure gap through commercialisation and supporting reforms.
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