State banking unit SBCI's future strategy to be guided by review
The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) is to undertake a review of the State's Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) to help determine its future strategy.
It comes just months after the SBCI chairman Conor O'Kelly, who is also chief executive of the NTMA, told Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe that the prevailing low-interest environment had diminished the SBCI's financial advantage for banks.
The SBCI was established in 2014 to provide SMEs with access to cheap finance via the banks, as Irish firms faced some of the highest borrowing costs in Europe.
The NTMA said that following engagement with the Department of Finance, and as the fourth anniversary of the SBCI has passed, "it is considered timely and opportune" to undertake a review of the SBCI.
"The purpose of the review is to inform the SBCI's future strategy and product development in a rapidly-changing market and support the SBCI as it continues to assist Irish businesses in accessing SME-friendly finance," said an SBCI spokesman.
The NTMA said the review will focus on the SBCI's function "as a policy-delivery mechanism and national promotional finance institution within the context of the Irish State's suite of supports for SMEs and use of promotional finance".
The SBCI launched its first products in March 2015 and has delivered more than €1bn of SBCI-supported lending to more than 24,000 SMEs.