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Beijing | Intesa Sanpaolo Mission to promote SEZs and SMEs in the Agri-food sector

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Beijing, 28 October 2019 – Today saw the launch of Intesa Sanpaolo’s Mission to China to promote the Economic System of Southern Italy, in collaboration with the Italian Embassy in Beijing, the China International Contractors Association (Chinca) along with the support of ICE. The Mission, which will take place today and tomorrow with numerous meetings dedicated to the internationalisation of SMEs, aims to showcase the Special Economic Zones in Southern Italy to potential Chinese and international investors at an event to be held today at the Italian Embassy. The opening address will be given by Stefano Buffagni, Deputy Minister for Economic Development, and by the Italian Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China.

Today’s session will feature speeches by Xin Xiuming, Vice-President of Chinca, Massimo Deandreis, General Manager of the Studi e Ricerche per il Mezzogiorno (Southern Italy Research Centre – SRM) which is linked to the Intesa Sanpaolo Group, Francesco Guido, Regional Manager for Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Puglia for Intesa Sanpaolo, and Pietro Spirito, Ugo Patroni Griffi and Sergio Prete, respectively the chairmen of the SEZs for Naples, Bari and Taranto.

This meeting will be followed by tomorrow’s event entitled ‘Support for the internationalisation of the Food & Beverage industry in Southern Italy‘, dedicated to enhancing export and distribution opportunities on the Chinese market, which will be introduced by the Italian Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and by Amedeo Scarpa, Director of ICE Beijing and Coordinator of the ICE Network in China, and will be followed by speeches by Francesco Guido, Regional Manager for Intesa Sanpaolo Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Puglia, and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in China, who will present the ‘True Italian Taste’ initiative.

During this intense two-day event of public and bilateral meetings, Intesa Sanpaolo hosted 30 export-oriented SMEs from Southern Italy who are Group customers that were identified as being the finest in the SEZ and Food & Beverage areas of Southern Italy. The Intesa Sanpaolo Group introduced them to prospective partners to expand their business in China, encourage investment in Italy and facilitate trade between countries. The visiting companies represent a wide range of sectors such as infrastructure, logistics, transport, energy and cutting-edge innovations on the one hand and agri-foodon the other.

For them, Intesa Sanpaolo, which is led in Beijing by chief representative Sergio Bertasi, in collaboration with the Italian Embassy in Beijing, ICE, the Italian Chamber of Commerce in China and the law firm Chiomenti, has organised training activities, B2B meetings with Chinese companies, meetings and visits with businesses in the local SEZ (Bin Hai – Tianjin), e-commerce platforms (JD)and Chinese large-scale retail chains.

Promotion and support, which in this Mission involves companies from the south, is an effective measure that is consistent with the commitment expressed by the Intesa Sanpaolo Group’s CEO, Carlo Messina, who has announced a lending plan for Southern Italy of 30 billion euro over two years.

The Mission to China is also consistent with Intesa Sanpaolo’s strategy to support the internationalisation of Italian SMEs worldwide, when they enter new international markets or if they intend to strengthen their presence abroad, thanks to a Banking Group with a widespread and integrated international presence in about 40 countries with specialists dedicated to businesses at the foreign branches, which guarantee coverage in 85 countries, also thanks to cooperation agreements with other banks. The services cover all the needs that companies have for export and internationalisation: bespoke lending products, Trade Finance and Export Finance, specialised consultancy, and a synergistic partnership with the institutional companies and bodies that are dedicated to the growth of Italy’s economy and products on international markets.

Intesa Sanpaolo’s programme for Southern Italy

With lending that is on average higher than funding and market share of 20% (which is higher than the national share of 17%), Intesa Sanpaolo is the main lender in the South. For this reason, CEO Carlo Messina has described it as the ‘bank of Southern Italy’ thanks to the numerous initiatives put in place for both private individuals and businesses.

Among these initiatives, the Group has been supporting the SEZ programme since its creation in 2017 with a maximum 1.5 billion euro allocated for their development and to enhance their ability to attract domestic and foreign investments. Under the agreement between Intesa Sanpaolo and the EIB’s European Investment Fund (EIF), which includes 330 million euro for new low-interest loans for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the South of Italy, 100 million euro is earmarked for investments in SEZs. The project, called the SME Initiative, is backed by the EIF and sponsored by the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE), is being financed using European, domestic and EIB Group resources with a specific focus on the South of Italy.

Among the means for supporting SMEs, Intesa Sanpaolo has launched a programme to support the expansion in size and competitiveness of companies in the south of Italy that is specific to each sector, called Impresa 2022. The programme directly involves the Bank for financial variables, but not only, to attract cooperation from universities, post-graduate schools and consulting firms to support the educational development of the human capital that is needed for a qualitative change.

Thanks to the partnership with Elite (Borsa Italiana), in the last two years the Group has selected 120 Italian SMEs with the aim of listing them on the stock exchange. One-third of these SMEs are from regions in the South of Italy. Also in collaboration with Elite, the first basket bond for SMEs was recently issued including one from Naples.

Thanks to the expertise of its Innovation Center and in collaboration with leading international partners, Intesa Sanpaolo has created innovation hubs for Naples and Bari to support start-ups working in the field of environmental sustainability. Neva Finventures, the Corporate Venture Capital of Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, is already investing in start-ups and training programmes for young people. Its first investment in the South was in MatiPay, a Fintech start-up belonging to the Angel Group.

With the Resto al Sud (Stay in the South) initiative for young entrepreneurs with a budget of 1,250 million euro made available by the ‘Fund for Development and Cohesion’, Intesa Sanpaolo is supporting the creation of new businesses started by entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 46 living in Southern Italy. This initiative has already involved about 6,000 young people. The Youth and Workproject, which was recently launched by Intesa Sanpaolo together with Generation Italy in Naples, Rome and, in the near future, Bari, also aims to encourage young people between the ages of 18 and 29 to enter the working world through free training courses designed to bridge the skills gap between supply and demand in the labour market.

Italy’s economic and social development is also closely linked to the growth of culture and art: Naples is home to one of Intesa Sanpaolo’s three museum sites which has become one of the most important museums in Southern Italy and where the Group intends to step up its investment in the arts.

The business plan of the Group headed by Carlo Messina also includes an extensive programme for supporting the needy: this includes 30% of the resources of the Intesa Sanpaolo charity fund being earmarked for the South of Italy, where the distribution of meals, thanks to Caritas, of clothing and medicines has been underway for some time. Also, Intesa Sanpaolo was involved in creating a nursery school in Naples for the young patients of the Department of Oncology of the Pausilipon Children’s Hospital.

Commentary by Francesco Guido, Regional Manager for Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Puglia of Intesa Sanpaolo:With about 250,000 SME customers and 61 supply chains involving 544 companies, our Regional Governance Centre provides daily support for the development and growth of the South in Italy and around the world. The intense program that is taking place now in China is an opportunity for Southern SMEs because thanks to Intesa Sanpaolo’s international network, the Chinese market is accessible for even small regional companies. Hopefully, this Mission will stimulate the growth in size necessary for SMEs to handle incoming orders over and above their production capacity. This would be a driving force for structural growth in the South for generating wealth and creating new jobs’.

Intesa Sanpaolo’s Mission to China will then move on to Qingdao where it will take part in the main agricultural machinery trade fair in Asia. In early 2020, a visit to the Great Bay in Shenzhen and Hong Kong is planned which will involve hi-tech and fintech SMEs.

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