EBRD lends Belgrade 70 mln euro to build bridge

1st long-term finance syndication gives city access to international markets

Serbia’s capital city, Belgrade, will use a €70 million EBRD loan to build a bridge that will link the city’s old and new districts, significantly reducing traffic congestion and pollution levels. The Bank is syndicating €20 million to international banks, including Hypo-Alpe-Adria International AG, Dexia Kommunalkredit Bank AG and Niederösterreichische Landesbank-Hypothekenbank AG, giving Belgrade its first long-term investment syndication and first access to international capital markets. The full amount will be provided for a period of 15 years.

Belgrade has only two functioning road bridges connecting the old and new parts of the city. This makes parts of the city difficult to access and has resulted in traffic congestion, and noise and air pollution, which are the city’s most pressing problems. The EBRD investment will help address these problems by funding a new cable-stayed bridge with a maximum length of 380 metres.

Henry Russell, EBRD Deputy Director for Municipal and Environmental Infrastructure, said the EBRD investment is a key part of Belgrade’s strategy to improve traffic flow, cut pollution and address a long-standing problem in the city. In addition, the syndication portion of the deal is bringing Belgrade back into the focus of international capital markets, the first time in its recent history, and also introducing the private sector into public sector projects.

The recent loan builds on cooperation between the EBRD and the City of Belgrade, which to date has benefited from €60 million in Bank loans.

Infrastructure development is the most important task for all local authorities since it improves living standards for citizens and creates new possibilities for investments, said Nenad Bogdanovic, Mayor of the City of Belgrade. In last six years over €1 billion has been invested in Belgrade in infrastructure development, and this latest investment for the new bridge builds on that success. The City of Belgrade received significant support in this task from the EBRD, said Mr Bogdanovic.

The EBRD is the largest investor in Serbia, having committed over €900 million in 62 projects. Dragica Pilipovic, the Bank’s Director for Serbia and Montenegro, said the new bridge will have a very positive impact in the city. Commuting times will be cut, and pollution levels will fall too, she added.

The Canadian government has provided €400,000 in technical co-operation funds for a Lender’s Technical Monitor to advise the Bank on preparation and implementation.