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Friday, April 27, 2007

8th International Venture Capital Forum

Athens, 3 & 4 July 2007, Hotel Grande Bretagne

Call for Expression of Interest

The Hellenic Center for Investment (ELKE), the New Economy Development Fund (TANEO), the Innovation Relay Centre HELP-FORWARD invite entrepreneurs and researchers having ambitious and innovative business plans to participate in bilateral business meetings with Greek and International Venture Capital firms during the 8th International Venture Capital Forum.

The Event will take place in Hotel Grande Bretagne, in Athens, on 3 & 4 July 2007. Businessmen, researchers, policy makers from SouthEast Europe and East Mediterranean, and in particular from Bulgaria, Cyprus, FYROM, Greece, Israel, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro, are invited to attend, present their business ideas and discuss venture opportunities in dedicated bilateral meetings.

The 8th International Venture Capital Forum is a unique two-day event dedicated to raising financing for ambitious and dynamic entrepreneurs, business oriented researchers and new technology-based firms in Southeast Europe. The event also provides a forum for institutional and other investment professionals to meet with policy makers, entrepreneurs, academics and researchers for an open exchange of views and ideas. The 8th International Venture Capital Forum is now the largest international private equity forum in Southeast Europe.

For the fourth subsequent year, the "Best Business Plan Prize" will be awarded to three Business Plans selected by the VCs that will participate in the Forum.

Venture capital firms are requested to present their availability and interest to explore the Event Portfolio and new entrepreneurs and researchers are invited to submit their business plan the latest by 1 June 2007, via the e-mail info@vcforum.gr. (Guidelines for the submission of the business plan are downloadable at the Forum's website http://www.vcforum.gr).

The event takes place under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Important dates

1 June 2007
Deadline for business plan submission

5 June 2007
Distribution of Business plan portfolio to investors

25 June 2007
Expression of interest from investors for bilateral meetings

29 June 2007
Notification of business meetings schedule to both investors and entrepreneurs

3 & 4 July 2007
The event



Friday, April 20, 2007


Recent space observations of freshwater storage by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) are providing a new picture of how Earth's most precious natural resource is distributed globally and how it is changing. Researchers are using the mission's almost five-year data record to estimate seasonal water storage variations in more than 50 river basins that cover most of Earth's land area. The variations reflect changes in water stored in rivers, lakes and reservoirs; in floodplains as snow and ice; and underground in soils and aquifers. "Grace is providing a first-ever look at the distribution of freshwater storage on the continents," said Dr. Jay Famiglietti, professor of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine. "With longer time series, we can distinguish long-term trends from natural seasonal variations and track how water availability responds to natural climate variations and climate change." Several African basins, such as the Congo, Zambezi and Nile, show significant drying over the past five years. In the United States, the Mississippi and Colorado River basins show water storage increases during that time. Such information is vital for managing water resources in vulnerable parts of Africa and Southeast Asia, since increasing populations and standards of living place demands on water resources that are often unsustainable. The data can be used to make more informed regional water-management decisions. The twin Grace satellites monitor tiny month-to-month changes in Earth's gravity field that are primarily caused by the movement of water in Earth's land, ocean, ice and atmosphere reservoirs. Hydrologists are analyzing Grace data to identify possible trends in precipitation changes, groundwater depletion and snow and glacier melt rates, and to understand their underlying causes. Dr. Matt Rodell, a hydrologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., said the data correspond well with ground observations. As a result, hydrologists can now apply Grace data in ways that will impact regional water management. "Grace data improve our understanding of the water cycle and simulations of soil moisture, snow and groundwater in computer models," he said. "This is a key step toward better weather, stream flow, flood, drought and water resource forecasts worldwide." Dr. Michael Watkins, Grace project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., said Grace is the only element in NASA's broad water cycle research program that measures changes in all types of water storage. "Grace detects water storage changes from Earth's surface to its deepest aquifers. Water can't hide from it," he said. The mission's abilities to detect water are particularly vital for the emerging field of groundwater remote sensing. "Remote sensing of groundwater has been a Holy Grail for hydrologists because it is stored beneath the surface and is not detected by most sensors," said Famiglietti. "Outside of the United States and a few other developed nations, it is not well monitored. It's been speculated that many of Earth's key aquifers are being depleted due to over-exploitation, but a lack of data has hampered efforts to quantify how aquifer levels are changing and take the steps necessary to avoid depleting them. With additional data, such as measurements of surface water and soil moisture, we can use Grace to solve this problem." Grace is also allowing scientists to estimate another key component of the water cycle for the first time: water discharged by freshwater streams from Earth's continents. Stream flow measurements are often not shared for economic, political or national defense reasons. Grace measurements of the total water discharged by continental streams are important for monitoring the availability of freshwater and understanding how surface water runoff from continents contributes to rises in global sea level. Scientists from NASA and the University of California, Irvine, are presenting their research today during the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Grace is a partnership between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The University of Texas Center for Space Research, Austin, has overall mission responsibility. JPL developed the two Grace satellites. DLR provided the launch, and the GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Germany, operates the Grace mission.



Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) in 2006

EU policy objective supported
The Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) brings together the full range of instruments of the EIB to assist the economic development of the Mediterranean partner countries and EIB has become the main financial partner of the Mediterranean region, providing finance worth nearly EUR 7.2 bn between 2002 and 2005. As part of the Barcelona Process, FEMIP facilitates the modernisation and opening-up of the economies of the Mediterranean partner countries.

FEMIP focuses its activities on two priority objectives:

• Support for the private sector;
• Creating an investment-friendly environment.

In addition to its financing operations, FEMIP pursues a policy of enhanced dialogue with all who are involved in the Euro-Mediterranean financial partnership, on the institutional front, through the annual Ministerial Committee meeting and regular Committee of Experts meetings, and with the representatives of the private sector and civil society.

Policy background

The European Investment Bank’s operations in the Mediterranean partner countries have been brought together under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) since October 2002. FEMIP represents a milestone in the financial partnership between the European Union and its Mediterranean neighbours which goes back more than thirty years and was intensified in the 1990s to underpin the Barcelona Process. In line with the Wider Europe Neighbourhood Policy, FEMIP aims to help the Mediterranean partner countries meet the challenges of economic and social modernisation and enhanced regional integration, particularly in the run-up to the creation of a customs union with the EU by 2010

Trends, highlights, new developments during the year and/or expected

Throughout the year, FEMIP has worked towards nurturing debate and reflection on energy in the Mediterranean region, with a special focus on safeguarding energy supplies and protecting the environment. Participants the 4th FEMIP Experts’ meeting, Vienna, March 2006, emphasized the need to strike a balance between sustainable development, competitiveness and security of supply, in accordance with the EU’s Green Paper on energy and agreed on the need to press ahead with energy sector reform in the Mediterranean countries

Renewable energy in Mediterranean partner countries will be supported through the ‘Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise d’Energie’ (ADEME) and the ’Agence Française de Développement’ (AFD) with whom the EIB , supported by the FEMIP Trust Fund, has joined forces.

The FEMIP Trust Fund is funding a study that investigates the possibilities for carbon finance and crediting activities in the Mediterranean region, identifies priority sectors and builds a pipeline of concrete CDM projects, which the EIB could help establish and finance in the years to come.

On 26 June 2006, the FEMIP 6th Ministerial Meeting took place in Tunis looking at its future prospects and assessing the results of the reinforced FEMIP. During this Ministerial meeting discussions continued between the 35 Euro-Mediterranean Finance Ministers on the harmonisation of procurement procedures and policies between the lending institutions and the Mediterranean partner countries, following up on the workshop held in Luxembourg in November 2005. This was the second FEMIP meeting twinned with the Euro-Mediterranean ECOFIN Council.

The Meeting also discussed recommendations from the FEMIP Experts Meeting in Vienna on 20-21 March 2006, focusing on the ways that FEMIP can support the improvement of the business climate and the attraction of foreign-direct investments in the Mediterranean region, as well as ways to further develop the Mediterranean energy markets. Special emphasis has been put on the renewable energy and energy efficiency issues.

In December 2006 the Member Sates of the European Union agreed to set a ceiling for EIB lending to the Mediterranean Countries for 2007-2013 of EUR 8.7 bn. This doubles the loan resources available compared to the previous period. Within this framework, support for the private sector, which has tripled in absolute terms in the period 2003-2005 compared to 2000-2002, will remain FEMIP’s number one priority. FEMIP will also support partner countries in their quest to create an environment that is supportive of private sector development by investing in infrastructure. Support to integrated transport, energy and telecommunications networks, including extension of Trans-European networks to the Mediterranean and the investment in human capital will be part of this.

Quantified results of the year

2006 Signatures in FEMIP countries per sector:

Energy Environment Industry Education, health Global Loans Totals
Egypt 310.0 200.0 40.0 550.0
Morocco 170.0 40.0 10.0 70.0 290.0
Syria 45.0 45.0
Tunisia 114.0 40.0 154.0
Israel 200 75.0 275.0
Regional 10.05 30.0 40.05
Totals 549.0 325.0 220.05 70.0 145.0 1 354.05

In terms of sector allocation, the bulk of the lending was directed towards the energy infrastructure sector (EUR 594 m or 44%). Environment accounted for EUR 325 m (24%), while industry and global loans for EUR 200 m (15%) and EUR 115 m (8%) respectively. The health sector received 70m (5%). Risk capital operations rose to EUR 50 m (4%).

In terms of geographical distribution, 64% of the total volume went for projects in the Near East (7 projects for a total of EUR 870 m), 33% for the Maghreb (6 projects for a total of EUR 444 m) and 3% (4 projects for a total of 40 m) for regional projects.

Key projects to illustrate the above

A EUR 70m loan to improve the health sector in Morocco, supporting hospital reform, an initiative of the Moroccan Ministry of Health. This project is an ambitious programme of hospital reconstruction, rehabilitation and equipping, with investments in 17 existing hospitals. The purpose of the programme is to improve the quality of buildings and equipment and to contribute to better hospital services across Morocco.

A EUR 260m loan to the construction of two natural gas-fired combined-cycle power generation units in El Atf and Sidi Krir (Egypt) and a EUR 50m loan for the construction of gas transmission pipeline between Abu Qurqas and Asyut in south of Egypt.

A EUR 40m loan to the Office National de l’Assainissement (ONAS) developing Tunisia's wastewater treatment capacity in order to meet growing requirements in fresh water and waste water management The program foresees upgrading of the primary and secondary water networks in Tunis, the expansion and rehabilitation of the sanitation systems in Monastir, Mahdia, Gabès, Medenine, Tatouine and Gafsa as well as the extension and the construction of treatment plants in Hammamet, Enfidha, Menzel Temime and Tazarka/Somâa/ Mâamoura. The program aims at improving living conditions, reducing health risks and preventing the pollution of surface, ground and marine water resources;

The EIB granted its first micro-credit loan from FEMIP risk capital resources in Tunisia to Enda inter-arabe, an NGO which has been providing micro-credit services since 1995 to by now some 30 000 micro-entrepreneurs – over 85% of them women – with a recovery rate of 99.6%. The objective of this FEMIP financing is to strengthen Enda inter-arabe’s capital and enable it to expand its operations in the country’s least developed regions. Enda inter-arabe is one of the few micro-finance institutions to have achieved financial self-sufficiency so that it does not depend on grants. The EIB loan is accompanied by technical assistance financed with budgetary resources, which is enabling Enda inter-arabe to optimise its organisation and manage its growth effectively. EIB’s financial package is intended as a signal of confidence in the NGO’s prospects and robustness to local banks, which still make only a marginal contribution to funding Enda inter-arabe.

A EUR 5.6m risk capital investment in Beltone Capital, an Egyptian investment company, that will invest in private sector growth companies, primarily in Egypt, providing them with strategic guidance and operational expertise. The EIB, with its EIB representation on the Board of Directors of Beltone Capital, is supporting the development of private equity in Egypt and widens the sources of funding available to local private enterprises.

An USD 5.7m participation in Attijari Invest, to set up a private equity fund for infrastructure investments. The project will improve major areas of infrastructure in Morocco, which is seen as a key factor for the overall improvement of the competitiveness of Morocco’s economy.

Otherwise noteworthy projects

Following the armed conflict in Lebanon in July-August 2006, President Mr. Maystadt confirmed that the EIB stands ready to continue its commitment to the country with all the instruments and tools provided by FEMIP. As a longstanding partner of Lebanon, with financial cooperation reaching back over 30 years, the EIB’s focus will be on the extensive damage caused to Lebanon and on the service industries that cater to the regional market – tourism, education, health and finance – that have suffered direct and indirect losses.

The Bank will continue its commitment to infrastructure projects, new EIB financing will help underpin sector reform for infrastructure in Lebanon, notably in the power sector. Technical Assistance support is envisaged to prepare the reorganisation/restructuring of the electricity authority.

For the recovery of private sector, the EIB will make use of existing facilities and consider new financing mechanisms. An existing EUR 60m credit line to will be used by financial intermediaries in support of private sector projects covering industry, agro-industry, IT, services, health and education. The Bank will also provide EUR 7,5 m for Byblos Ventures, which focuses on investment in small and medium-sized enterprises in Lebanon.

Cooperation with the European Commission, EIF, other partners.

2006 has seen close cooperation between EIB and partner development finance institutions, following on MoUs and letters of intent established between them in the course of the last two years. This cooperation has taken concrete form in co-financing, notably, environmental projects in Egypt, Marocco, Syria and Tunisia. A number of meetings have been organised for coordinating technical assistance e.g.:
 with AfDB in early 2006 (see FEMIP annual report 2005)
 the roundtable on the administration and coordination of the Trustfund was held in February 2006.
 An EIB-KfW-AFD working group on the introduction of joint project appraisal met on 18 December 2006

Also under the new mandate, 2007-2013, FEMIP will continue working within the framework of the different agreements concluded over the recent years. It will implement its loans in close cooperation with the other institutions operating in the region (the European Commission, European national institutions, the African Development Bank, the World Bank Group etc.).

Helen Kavvadia
Senior Communications Officer
European Investment Bank