EIB confirms 500 mln euro loan to Fiat for Serbian plant

MILAN Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:14pm IST

MILAN Aug 31 (Reuters) - The European Investment Bank will continue disbursing a 500 million euro ($625 million) loan to Italian carmaker Fiat for a new plant in Serbia, even though the government there has slowed down investment pledged for the factory.

"At the moment we are not aware of any impact on the loan," a spokesman for the EIB told Reuters on Friday.

The subsidised loan, granted by the European Union's finance arm in May 2011, is part of a joint project in the central Serbian city of Kragujevac worth 1 billion and including contributions from the government and Fiat.

While Serbia and Fiat have pledged to pay 500 million euros, the cash-strapped government said on Thursday it will hand over only 55 percent of the 90 million it was due to pay the carmaker this year.

The plant, which opened on April 14 and is designed to make up to 200,000 cars per year, builds Fiat's new 500L, a larger five-seat version of the Fiat 500 minicar and scheduled to be launched next month.

After a recent fact-finding visit by Fiat vice-chairman Alfredo Altavilla, chief executive Sergio Marchionne was expected to visit Serbia on Sept. 4 for further talks. ($1 = 0.8001 euro) (Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Dan Lalor)