The European Investment Bank Group (EIB) and UniCredit Bulbank Bulgaria signed a Guarantee on the synthetic securitisation of SME and Mid-Cap loans originated by UniCredit Bulbank last year. The notional amount of the Guarantee is €90 million on a portfolio of €1 billion. The transaction represents a significant milestone as the first ever securitisation of any type carried out by our CE&EE division.
The EIB Group’s guarantee will allow UniCredit Bulbank to finance new eligible projects undertaken by Bulgarian small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). With further backing from the Pan-European Guarantee Fund (EGF), this is expected to unlock new loans amounting to more than €630 million at more favourable conditions especially for SMEs suffering from the economic consequences of the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and instability due to events in Ukraine.
This was the first EIB Group synthetic securitisation in Bulgaria and is expected to provide a very strong signaling effect for the Bulgarian banking market as a whole. Furthermore, it was the first securitisation with a UniCredit subsidiary in Central and Eastern Europe. The transaction shows the continued successful cooperation between UniCredit Bulbank and EIB, following similar agreements with both EIB and EIF in 2021 and before.
The size of the transaction, the economic KPIs met and the resulting benefit at both the Group and Bulbank level have remarked this transaction as an unprecedented success, supporting the Group’s corporate and SME lending business in Bulgaria and beyond. The transaction was the outcome of great co-operation across many parts of the UniCredit Group, including Bulbank, ALM CE&EE, CE&EE CIB FIG, Group ALM &
Funding, and the Securitisation & Asset-Backed Solutions team in a complex, and innovative project which was over one year in the making and will help to further set the scene for other securitisation efforts by the Group CE&EE team.
A conversation with...
Sandra Vojnovic, Member of the Management Board and CFO, UniCredit Bulbank
Why are you particularly proud to have worked on this project?
Member of the Management Board and CFO, UniCredit Bulbank
Being the first transaction of its kind in Bulgaria and across the Central & Eastern Europe region of UniCredit Group, it was both an honour and a challenge to work on such a complex project. The idea was born in the Bank more than two years ago and it took some time for it to mature and materialise as one of the biggest successes of the Bank in 2022. The project involved some of the best experts in the Bank and the Group, engaged in designing the local process, with tight deadlines for implementation adding to the complexity. Strong enthusiasm, motivation to succeed, prospect of the benefits and a steep learning curve marked the work with project team members. The implementation did not go without difficulties and many lessons learned, which we are now proudly sharing with other countries that will follow our lead. The successful transaction only confirmed the Bank’s leadership position and role of a market maker.
How has this contributed to our Bank’s overall strategy?
The ultimate goal of the transaction was to achieve savings in risk weighted assets, being one of the most important targets and pillars of the Bank’s overall strategy and in line with the objectives identified in the UniCredit Unlocked plan. The capital relief from the transaction was used to support the financing needs of local SME clients, further strengthening the Bank’s undisputable leadership position in the segment. Exploring ways to maximise capital efficiency is in our daily focus, and succeeding in implementing such a complex transaction, which became a CET1 and RoAC booster, added to the confidence that we can further improve. During 2022 significant risk weighted assets efficiencies have been achieved, with synthetic securitisation transaction having the highest impact. Working on the Silver project, we have accumulated critical knowledge and experience to continue exploring further possibilities of securitising different portfolios in future, in line with the latest MYP ambitions.
Can you tell us about the partnership with other divisions, countries, and organisations?
The Silver project benefited crucially from UniCredit Bulbank’s partnership with UniCredit Bank AG’s securitisation team, the asset-liability management function at CE&EE and Group level, Group Structured Entities Risk, Group Capital Management, Group Regulatory Reporting, and the data office function at Group and CE&EE level.
EIB Group’s contribution was noteworthy as EIF and EIB offered a guarantee for a junior tranche (novel product in the market). EIF and EIB also leveraged on their status as supranational institutions and their AAA rating to provide a guarantee acceptable from a regulatory perspective. EIB and EIF participation had a very strong signaling effect to the Bulgarian banking market. The transaction represented a continuation and upgrade of the successful cooperation between UniCredit Bulbank and EIB Group through guarantee instruments, following the signatures of guarantee agreements with both EIB and EIF prior to and in 2021. Thus, both UniCredit and EIB Group once again proved to be key partners in facilitating access to financing for SMEs, new investments, employment, innovation, economic growth, and increased competitiveness of the economy in Bulgaria and the whole Central and Eastern European region.