The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has agreed to lend €160m to UniCredit Bank Serbia to support the local economy.

The financial package includes a €100m loan to boost lending to SMEs and support key investments.

The amount includes a €35m credit line in local currency to mitigate exchange rate volatility and increase funding options.

For first-time homeowners, EBRD has allocated a €60m mortgage loan. Around 60% of the amount will be assigned for lending outside the Serbian capital Belgrade.

EBRD regional head of the Western Balkans Zsuzsanna Hargitai said: “We are pleased to further our cooperation with our long-standing partner UniCredit Bank by offering financing in foreign and local currency to Serbian businesses and extending mortgage loans to Serbian citizens.

“Not only will this agreement help companies to invest and improve their competitiveness, but it will also support many people in finding a new home.”

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A subsidiary of Italian banking group UniCredit, UniCredit Bank Serbia has 72 branches in the country. It boasts more than 400,000 customers and employs around 1,280 people.

UniCredit Bank Serbia CEO Feza Tan said: “Recognising the importance of the SME sector, a key engine of economic growth and job creation, we are striving to find ways to offer products and services that can help them improve and expand their businesses.”

In June, EBRD raised its stake in Slovenian lender Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) from 6.25% to 7.125%. The move is part of the government’s efforts to privatise major banks in the country.