EIB: Brexit changes nothing… for now

The Bank has made commitments to a number of UK-focused private equity funds; there will be no immediate changes to its engagement with the country, it has said.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has said there will be no imminent changes to the bank’s relationship with the UK, currently its fourth-largest shareholder, following a UK vote to leave the EU.

“The UK has a 16.11 percent shareholding in the EIB, is one of the four main shareholders of the bank and nominates a member of the EIB management committee. At present the UK’s shareholding in the EIB remains and the EIB’s engagement in the UK is unchanged. Any change to the EIB’s shareholder structure or lending activity is a decision for the member states,” the EIB stated.

In its role as development finance institution, the EIB makes commitments to private equity funds as well investing directly in qualifying businesses and infrastructure projects. In 2015 it backed a number of lower mid-market funds in the UK, including those managed by growth capital firms Livingbridge, Key Capital Partners and RJD Partners.

It added that the bank’s future relationship with the UK will form part of broader discussions on the UK’s relationship with Europe, but added that “at present, the EIB’s shareholders have not requested the bank to change its approach to operations in the UK”. It also said it is “premature to speculate on the impact of the referendum result on the EIB”.

“Today is a very sad day for Europe,” EIB president Werner Hoyer said last Friday, the day the referendum results were known. “As president of the EIB, I take note of the UK vote with the deepest regret, although of course the bank will work with member states and other EU institutions to assure an orderly transition to a new negotiated arrangement according to the treaty.”

In a pre-Brexit statement, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s pointed out that the EIB had invested €42 billion in the UK over the last eight years, with €19.1 billion of that total being invested in infrastructure. It also stressed that, while non-EU member states can qualify for funding, they cannot constitutionally qualify for board membership.

Excluding a one-off dip in 2012, EIB investment in the UK had been steadily increasing over the last five years, from just over €4.8 billion in 2011 to a record high of €7.8 billion last year, according to EIB data.

Additional reporting by Toby Mitchenall