The Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank (EIB) has made its first investment into European audiovisual production as part of the "Audiovisual i2i" initiative by signing two agreements for Euros 20m each with the French credit institutions Cofiloisirs and Coficine.

The agreements, which were signed on November 23 by the EIB's Vice-President Francis Mayer, Cofiloisirs' Director General Denis Offroy and Coficine's Vice-President Director General Didier Courtois Duverger, lets EIB contribute to loans for the production and distribution of 30-40 audiovisual works in France and other EU states.

Scheduled to last until 2003 and with a budget of Euro 500m-Euro 600m, the "Audiovisual i2i" initiative comprises four key elements.

One strand will see EIB providing medium- to long-term financing, for private or public sector television and audiovisual production and film distribution groups to cover their infrastructure investments. Another could involve the opening of EIB "global loans" to banks specialising in finance for small audiovisual production companies, while a third would support the financing of audiovisual venture capital funds through European Investment Fund equity participations.

A fourth element is joint action by the EIB Group and the European Commission (EC) "to foster the creation of cultural works and development of the film and television industries" and "ensure maximum complementarity" between the Group's banking resources and the EC's MEDIA Plus programme.