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September 4, 2008

EIB loan for Grimaldi cruise ferries

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and UniCredit Corporate Banking have signed a EUR 81 million loan agreement with Italy's Atlantica SpA di Navigazione (Grimaldi Group). It is aimed at expanding its fleet for the Mediterranean "motorways of the sea" as car/truck ferry services are now referred to in Eurospeak. The loan will be advanced through UniCredit Corporate Banking as part of a total credit line of EUR 250 million made available by the EIB (which is owned by the EU member states) to the Grimaldi Group.

This credit line, with a term of 15 years, will be used to co-finance four cruise ferries, ordered by Grimaldi from Fincantieri, with an approximate total value of EUR 600 million.

The first tranche of EUR 81million will fund the acquisition of the Cruise Barcelona, which will begin serving the Civitavecchia–Barcelona route in mid-September 2008.

The vessels are the largest freight/passenger ships ever used in the Mediterranean: they will be able to carry 2,140 passengers and 3,600 lane meters of vehicles (187 trailers and 215 cars).

"This investment illustrates the EIB/s commitment to developing the motorways of the sea in the Mediterranean. The EIB is satisfied with the loan to the Grimaldi Group – a solid Naples-based company," remarked Dario Scannapieco, EIB Vice-President with responsibility for financing operations in Italy, Malta and the western Balkans. "This project," he added, "is also in line with the Commission's policy of promoting shipping, to help curb road traffic and rebalance the different modal shares, with beneficial effects for the environment and in terms of reducing traffic."

"The value of the EIB loan goes beyond the purely economic aspects," noted Emanuele Grimaldi, joint managing director of the Grimaldi Group. "It is in fact an acknowledgement of the far-sighted strategy of a group that has been investing for 20 years in the motorways of the sea, a strategic infrastructure that is often underrated but which is crucial for economic growth and European cohesion. These Cruise Ferry vessels"are also cutting edge from an environmental standpoint: on the Civitavecchia–Barcelona route they will cut CO2 emissions by 40% compared with road transport for freight and air transport for passengers."


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