The number of growth-oriented SMEs has increased since last spring, and the number of enterprises with a strong desire to grow has already reached the level that prevailed before the-financial crisis. Yet problems exist in the application for financing.The positive trend observed already last spring has continued and among SMEs, economic expectations for the near future are considerably more optimistic than before. The same trend is also visible in growth orientation: 11 per cent of enterprises already say that they have a strong desire to grow while 39 per cent seek growth according to their possibilities.Internationalisation is seen as the key avenue for growth. The number of SMEs with a strong desire to grow has already reached the level that prevailed before the financial crisis.The availability of external financing has not changed. Slightly more SMEs than before plan to apply for financing within the next year. On the other hand, one in ten respondents reported that they would have needed financing during the past 12 months but had not applied for it. Nor has the will to apply for internationalisation financing risen at the same rate as growth orientation.“About 80 per cent of enterprises that had applied for financing said that the terms or availability of financing had no negative impact on the implementation of projects. Since as many as one in ten do not apply for financing because they assume that availability, in particular, is poor, we must communicate to SMEs ever more clearly that financing is indeed available for profitable projects,” says Katja Keitaanniemi, Executive Vice President, SMEs at Finnvera.However, a positive signal of the functioning of the financial market is that 46 per cent of the enterprises that had not applied for financing – despite their needs – reported that they had in any case implemented their project according to plans.Expectations for exports and investments on the riseThe respondents to the SME Barometer Survey also have positive expectations for exports, and exports are assumed to increase steeply in all sectors. Financing is now sought for investments slightly more often than before, while the number of applications for working capital has decreased.The Federation of Finnish Enterprises, Finnvera and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy jointly conduct an SME Barometer Survey twice a year. The goal is to study the operations and economic environment of small and medium-sized enterprises. The barometer for autumn 2016 is based on responses from over 6,000 SMEs.SME Survey on The Federation of Finnish Enterprises websiteAdditional information:Katja Keitaanniemi, Executive Vice President, SMEs, tel. +358 29 460 2888Jonna Myllykangas, Communications Officer, tel. +358 29 460 2740
The world’s largest power plant fuelled solely by biomass will be built near the town of Middlesborough, England. The circulating fluidised bed boiler and the flue gas cleaning system are delivered by Amec Foster Wheeler Energia Oy. Finnvera’s contribution to the financing of the project is GBP 100 million, or roughly EUR 120 million.The construction of the power plant is estimated to cost approximately GBP 650 million, or about EUR 780 million.Preliminary construction work for the MGT Teesside plant will begin within the next few months. Commercial operations are due to start during the first quarter of 2020. The 299 MW power plant will be fuelled solely by clean wood pellets and chips.“We’re glad of this opportunity to contribute to the export of Finnish renewable energy technology. Finland has solid expertise in this type of renewable energy technology. Elsewhere in the world – surprisingly– it is still often perceived as something new,” says Tuukka Andersén, Vice President and Head of Underwriting at Finnvera.“Finnvera’s participation in the project enabled long-term financing of 15 years. This is a key factor if a project of this type is to succeed,” he adds.Jaakko Riiali, VP, Commercial Operations at Amec Foster Wheeler Energia Oy, the company delivering the power plant boiler, sees the project as a good bridgehead for large biomass boilers of the power company class in Central Europe. In addition, the project serves as an example for more northern countries as well, showing that biomass as well as fossil fuels can be used to fuel large baseload plants. “Finnvera’s inclusion in the financial arrangements gave stability to the negotiations and made it considerably easier to reach an agreement on project financing,” Riiali says.Fuel from responsibly managed forestsIn order to ensure the sustainability of fuel supply, the biomass-fuelled power plant uses fuel acquired from FSC Forest Management certified forest areas. FSC certification guarantees that the fuel is derived from responsibly managed forests.The price paid by the British government for electricity produced using clean biomass is considerably higher than the normal price of electricity. The purpose is to support the attainment of the targets set by the UK Government and the European Union for CO2 emissions and to promote the objective of reducing coal combustion at both small and large power generation units.Additional information:Tuukka Andersén, Vice President, Head of Underwriting, Finnvera, tel. +358 29 460 2688Jaakko Riiali, VP, Commercial Operations, Amec Foster Wheeler Energia Oy, tel. +358 40 585 1590
After a long decline, investments by enterprises seeking growth on international markets seem to have picked up in the first half of the year. The information is based on applications for financing that Finnvera has processed during the first six months of the year.“I think this is a good signal showing that enterprises feel more confident about investing. The change is particularly significant because the growth is based on intangible investments, such as research and development, and on various corporate reorganisations,” says Katja Keitaanniemi, Executive Vice President, SMEs.Intangible investments have in recent years accounted for 2 to 3 per cent of internationalising enterprises’ projects financed by Finnvera. However, during the first half of the current year, their share almost doubled. The amount of financing needed for corporate reorganisations also nearly doubled when compared against previous years.Keitaanniemi stresses the importance of intangible investments for developing long-term competitiveness.“When operating on international markets, Finland’s problem has been the relatively small company size, which means that the resources available are also small. When the company size increases, there are more opportunities to invest in international growth.“No single region or sector explains the growth in investments. The probable reason is therefore an increase in general investment activity,” Keitaanniemi presumes.The surveys conducted by the Federation of Finnish Financial Services and the Confederation of Finnish Industries also corroborate the positive trend. Despite the increase in investments, the working capital required by growth is still the greatest single need for Finnvera’s financing.Links:Growth > InvestmentsGrowth > Business operations abroadFill in the contact request form
Different factors explain the success of small and large enterprises. According to studies, the company’s management is the most important factor for an SME. A large enterprise, in turn, has access to wider markets for management recruitment and, for instance, the option of transferring operations from one country to another to gain cost benefits. In consequence, for a large enterprise, the single factor having the highest correlation with the company’s success is simply its line of business. Since we at Finnvera have the opportunity to follow the stories of thousands of different enterprises and to observe the cause and effect relationships contributing to a company’s success – or sometimes, sad to say, its failure – I would claim that the owner is even more important for an SME than the management. Of course, these two are often the same person. But even when they aren’t, the owner has more direct influence over management selection and may intervene in the company’s day-to-day operations more than the owners of large corporations do. A good or a bad owner can be critical even for a large corporation – an example might be the revival of the Turku shipyard after its Korean owner was replaced by a German owner – but for an SME, the owner almost always has an absolutely pivotal role in the development and success of the Enterprise. Finnvera provides financing for over a thousand transfers of ownership each year. Statistics on the age structure of entrepreneurs reveal that the need for transfers of business to the next generation, and for business acquisitions, will continue at an exceptionally high level even for the next ten years. Surveys indicate that the principal bottlenecks are the matching of suitable buyers and sellers, accurate value determination and issues pertaining to taxation and law. Financing follows next. Together with enterprise organisations, Finnvera works actively to help eliminate all these bottlenecks. Throughout the country, we organise numerous events where buyers, sellers, experts in various fields and financiers can meet each other. Our goal is to ensure that as many enterprises as possible, after having been brought by their current owners along their own unique paths to this point in time, will find a good new owner who has the resources and the desire to continue in the future to the next success story! Pauli HeikkiläCEORead more about Finnvera's financing for transfers of ownership.
A marked rise in Finnvera’s authorisations – performance slightly negativeDuring the period under review, the maximum amounts of export credits and export credit guarantees that Finnvera is authorised to grant were raised through legislative amendments. The main reasons behind the need to raise the authorisations were the steep rise in ship financing within the past few years and the increase in the volume of export projects undertaken for telecommunications and the forest industry. The Group’s performance for the first six months of the year was EUR 7 million in the red, owing to losses and provisions for losses in export credit guarantees. The negative result for the first six months of the year does not affect the realisation of the cumulative self-sustainability of Finnvera’s export credit guarantee activities.The need for funding increased alongside the greater demand for export financing sevices. The fixed-rate bond of EUR one billion issued by Finnvera in April was the company’s first euro-denominated bond with a maturity of ten years.In April, Finnvera and enterprise organisations launched a joint campaign to speed up transfers of ownership in SMEs. Various activation measures are applied to increase enterprises’ awareness of issues such as valuation and taxation. During the first half of the year, transfers of ownership financed by Finnvera showed a rise of 17 per cent when measured in euros.In line with the Government Programme, Finnvera introduced a new debt-based mezzanine financing product onto the market: the Growth Loan. The new product is intended for financing SMEs and midcap companies in major growth and internationalisation projects.Business operations and the financial trendDuring the period under review, demand for Finnvera’s export and special guarantees and export credits rose steeply on the previous year: 50 per cent and 90 per cent, respectively. In contrast, demand for SME and midcap financing fell by 17 per cent on the previous year.Although the demand for export and special guarantees rose, the offers given by Finnvera for export credit and special guarantees and for export credits fell by 76 per cent and 87 per cent, respectively. The reason for this was that some of the projects or their credit agreements were still being negotiated at the end of June. The amount of loans and guarantees granted to SMEs and midcap companies fell by 11 per cent when compared against the first half of 2015. Finnvera Group 1 Jan-30 June 2016 1 Jan-30 June 2015 Change % Offered financing, MEUR Loans and guarantees 483 541 -11 % Export credit guarantees and special guarantees 1 226 5 124 -76 % Export credits 477 3 601 -87 % 30 June 2016 30 June 2015 Change % Outstanding commitments, MEUR Loans and guarantees 2 322 2 285 2 % Export credit guarantees and special guarantees 16 896 17 436 -3 % Export credits 4 718 4 240 11 % 1 Jan-30 June 2016 1 Jan-30 June 2015 Change % Net Interest income both fee and commission income and expenses, MEUR 93 102 -8 % Operating profit, MEUR -7 56 -113 % Profit for the period, MEUR -7 55 -113 % 30 June 2016 30 June 2015 Change % Balance sheet total, MEUR 9 166 8 418 9 % Equity; MEUR 1 116 1 121 0 % - of which non-restricted reserves, MEUR 865 871 -1 % 30 June 2016 30 June 2015 Change % points Equity ratio, % 12,2 % 13,3 % -1,1 % Capital adequacy, Tier 2, % 18,9 % 19,6 % -0,7 % Cost-income ratio, % 30,6 % 28,3 % 2,3 % The Finnvera Group’s financial performance for January–June showed a loss of EUR 7 million, as against a profit of EUR 55 million the year before. The result was EUR 62 million less than for the first six months of 2015.The principal factors affecting the negative result during the first half of the year were the increased losses and provisions for losses recognised by the parent company, Finnvera plc, for export credit guarantees. Losses on export credit guarantees and provisions for losses together amounted to EUR 66 million (2 million). During the period under review it emerged that the Brazilian Oi S.A. Group poses a risk that, if realised, might cause a loss that is currently estimated at about EUR 55 million. In consequence, the provisions for losses were increased during the period. Provisions for losses are current estimates. Their amount may still change considerably as more detailed information is obtained.The result of EUR -7 million recorded for the parent company, Finnvera plc, during the first half of the year (56 million), was broken down as follows: Large Corporates, EUR -17 million (48 million); SMEs, EUR 10 million (8 million).During the 17 years that the company has been in operation, the Group’s performance has been positive for all financial periods and, since the early 2009, for all six-month periods, until the recently ended period of January–June 2016. The parent company’s export credit guarantee activities have also been cumulatively self-sustainable throughout the company’s operations, even considering the negative result for January–June. Finnvera Group H1/2016 H1/2015 Change Change *2015 MEUR MEUR MEUR % MEUR Net Interest income 27 28 -2 -6 56 Fee and commission income and expenses (net) 67 73 -7 -9 141 Gains/losses from items carried at fair value -10 -6 4 63 -21 Administrative expenses -22 -22 0 1 -44 Other operating expenses -3 -3 0 -5 -6 Impairment losses, guarantee losses -65 -14 51 352 -15 Loans and domestic guarantees -15 -72 -57 -79 -87 Credit loss compensation from the State 15 60 -45 -74 83 Export credit guarantees and special guarantees -66 -2 64 - -10 Operating profit -7 56 -63 -113 114 Profit for the period -7 55 -62 -113 111 Outlook for financingIt is expected that demand for export credit guarantees and financing provided by Finnvera will continue to increase. Measured in euros, demand will probably continue to focus on cruise vessels, telecommunications and forestry. An internationally competitive export financing system plays an important role in these sectors, owing to the large scale of individual investments.New export markets have opened up, for instance, in Iran and Argentina. With opening markets, public financing sources, such as Finnvera’s export credit guarantees, are important for the realisation of export transactions. Among countries where Finnvera is exposed to risk, the situation in Brazil, Turkey and Russia is expected to remain uncertain. This will pose challenges to enterprises operating in these countries. On the other hand, Brazil’s and Russia’s weakened local currencies reinforce the operating conditions of export companies active in these countries. This may boost interest in investments and may provide export opportunities for Finnish businesses. The result of the British referendum on exiting the EU is likely to cause uncertainty in Europe for several years.During the first half of 2016, demand for Finnera’s SME financing was slower than a year ago. The financing granted was also at a lower level than the year before. During the first half of the year, Finnvera prepared the adoption of the Growth Loan, a new mezzanine financing product, and was getting ready to serve as an intermediary organisation for the European Fund for Strategic Investments. Together with the recently adopted programme on transfers of ownership, these developments are likely to increase the demand for and granting of financing in the latter half of the year.According to the estimate made in early 2016, the financial performance for the current year is likely to fall below that for 2015. The negative result for the first six months of the year does not affect the realisation of the cumulative self-sustainability of Finnvera’s export credit guarantee activities.CEO Pauli Heikkilä:“Finnvera’s exposure figures have risen higher than ever before, and it is expected that demand for export credit guarantees and financing provided by Finnvera will continue to increase. It is important to ensure the functioning of our export financing system so that Finnish companies can compete over export deals on equally good financing terms as their competitors.With respect to SME financing, the growth in the volume of enterprise acquisitions has been gratifying. We shall continue our efforts to encourage transfers of ownership; the greater the number of companies that continue their operations, the better it is for the overall economy of Finland. New owners often bring development ideas and the wish to grow.The Team Finland network is under intense development. Improvement of the joint domestic service model will continue for the rest of the year. So far the feedback from customers within the scope of the service has been positive. Team Finland cooperation will get a boost in practice with the impending move of Finnvera, Finpro, Tekes and Finnish Industry Investment to joint premises in Team Finland House, in the Ruoholahti district of Helsinki.Finnvera’s statutory mission is to bear some of the credit risks that are inevitable in all export transactions. Some of these risks were realised during the first six months of the current year.”Half Year Report 1 Jan - 30 June 2016 (PDF)Additional information:Pauli Heikkilä, Chief Executive Officer, tel. +358 29 460 2400 Ulla Hagman, Senior Vice President, CFO, tel. +358 29 460 2458
During its first year, Finnvera’s Start Guarantee attracted applications for 1,600 financing projects. An entrepreneur considers the guarantee convenient for start-ups.Both banks and entrepreneurs have found Finnvera’s Start Guarantee, which has been in use for a little over a year.According to Team Leader Leena Waarna, banks have submitted applications for Start Guarantees to Finnvera for 1,600 financing projects.The bank applies for the Start Guarantee on behalf of the entrepreneur. In other words, the entrepreneur only deals directly with his own bank. Finnvera’s guarantee coverage can be at most 80 %. However, the total sum of Start Guarantees granted to one enterprise may not exceed EUR 80,000.“The Start Guarantee is also well suited for smaller projects, for instance from 30,000 to 50,000 euros in size. Therefore, entrepreneurs should not be discouraged even if they don’t have proper collateral for the bank,” Waarna says.She encourages starting entrepreneurs to contact local advisory services first. They have information, for instance, on competition in both the region and the sector involved.Companies’ initial costs and financing needs vary widely.A few tens of thousand euros is enough for the initial working capital for example in the service sector, whereas considerably more money is needed for investments in projects involving production.“Entrepreneurs are generally pretty good at calculating their expenses in advance. In contrast, turnover forecasts are easily over-optimistic. It is expected that turnover will start to accumulate quickly, and payment schedules are drawn up accordingly,” Waarna says.“Realistic overall calculations and correctly dimensioned credit with its repayment periods help the fledgling entrepreneur to avoid the worst pitfalls,” she continues.A faster startTuure Parkkinen, an entrepreneur from Helsinki, praises the Start Guarantee lavishly.“The Start Guarantee was unusually easy because the bank filed the application for us. From the entrepreneur’s perspective, there was little red tape. In the end, we decided to withdraw 25,000 euros,” Parkkinen reminisces.Together with his partners, he founded ResQ Club late last November. Using the digital service developed by the enterprise, consumers receive information on food that is about to go to waste in restaurants, bakeries, cafés and hotels.The service gives consumers the opportunity to buy food at discounts exceeding even 50 per cent. Restaurants, in turn, can reduce their waste.Parkkinen says that the founders had little savings when establishing their enterprise.“Even if we ourselves worked without pay, some expenses are inevitable at the start. Now we were able to kick off more quickly.”From the very start, ResQ Club’s services have attracted interest among both investors and consumers.With private individuals and venture capitalists as new investors, the company issued a financing call of over 300,000 euros. At the same time, ResQ Club announced that the service is also being launched in Sweden.The service has about 20,000 registered users and 150 partner suppliers.FACT: What’s a Start Guarantee? The Start Guarantee is intended for start-ups and enterprises that are no more than three years old. The enterprise must be owned by private individuals. The Start Guarantee is particularly well suited for small-scale financing, especially if the entrepreneur has insufficient collateral for the bank. Finnvera’s guarantee coverage is at most 80 per cent. The total amount of Start Guarantees granted to an enterprise cannot exceed 80,000 euros, in which case the maximum loan sought from a bank under the Start Guarantee is 100,000 euros. For collateral, the principal shareholders lodge special guarantee undertakings that must cover at least 25% of Finnvera’s guarantee sum. The enterprise presents the financing application to its own bank. Thereafter, the bank assesses the credibility of the business and checks the calculations and the applicants’ creditworthiness before granting financing. The bank submits the application for the Start Guarantee to Finnvera on behalf of the enterprise. The Start Guarantee is intended especially for the working capital and investment needs of start-up enterprises. It cannot be used for financing company acquisitions or purchases of business premises. The Start Guarantee may also be one part of the enterprise’s aggregate of loans. The maximum repayment period for loans under the Start Guarantee is ten years. More information about the Start Guarantee is available here.More financing solutions for setting up a company are found here.Text: Kimmo Koivikko
In South America, the Argentinian economy is gradually opening up for foreign business again. Finnvera’s experts see opportunities for Finnish companies in Argentina.Argentina’s economy collapsed at the turn of the millennium and, owing to unpaid debts, the country remained outside international financial markets for many years. However, the new conservative administration has taken quick action to resolve any unsettled disputes with Argentina’s creditors. In consequence, the country is gradually able to renew its relations with international providers of financing. The new Government has also lifted the restrictions on foreign trade.According to Jussi Haarasilta, Executive Vice President at Finnvera, Argentina is gradually becoming a potential export country for Finnish companies.“Necessary reforms were neglected during Argentina’s long period of isolation. For instance, the infrastructure is in urgent need of development, and that’s where Finns might well have a lot to offer in the coming years. This could mean, for example, telecommunication and electricity networks, mining, wood processing and the construction of harbours,” Haarasilta lists.“In short, the traditional Finnish export portfolio is well suited to Argentina’s future needs.”Haarasilta stresses that with its population of 43 million, Argentina is now becoming an attractive market for many companies.“Competition will be stiff for certain,” he predicts.“Realisation of large projects calls for financing, which in turn requires that the counterparty is creditworthy. Argentina was outside export credit guarantees for years. At present, Finnvera can support the financing of trade and is investigating how to guarantee long-term credits,” Haarasilta says.“It pays to look into partners’ backgrounds”Many companies have already contacted Finnvera to inquire about the situation in Argentina. Senior Adviser Mika Relander visited Argentina recently and underlines that even if Argentina offers promising opportunities, companies considering business there should still exercise caution.“The operating environment continues to involve risks, especially in the public sector, as the country’s economy is still rather weak and will require many long-term reforms. Good examples are the large subsidies for electricity and petrol prices that need to be dismantled before the public economy can be balanced.”“Otherwise, too, it pays to investigate customers’ solvency and the partners’ backgrounds in advance together with Finnvera,” Relander says.However, according to Relander, Finnvera always strives to seek and tailor financing solutions that would make the export transaction possible.“Still, in the case of Argentina, we also need to be rather cautious,” he adds.Additional information:Jussi Haarasilta, tel. +358 29 460 2601, jussi.haarasilta (at) finnvera.fiMika Relander, tel. +358 29 460 2725, mika.relander (at) finnvera.fi
Recruiting the right people and the owners’ capacity to take risks are crucial for a company’s growth.Everyone makes mistakes, but you should learn from them, growth entrepreneur Lennu Keinänen urges.Keinänen says that he himself has stepped on all possible mines, from market analyses to financing. Despite that, he has taken part in founding nine enterprises. Of these, the best known is Paytrail, a provider of online payment services. The Danish company Nets acquired 80 per cent of the enterprise two years ago.However, Keinänen identifies the team and its importance as the biggest mine.“Team members must have sufficiently diverse backgrounds. It’s not necessarily a good idea to hire your course mate,” Keinänen points out.In his view, building the right team can start once the entrepreneur understands what he or she is actually doing.“Corporate culture must be created first. In the end, culture is shaped only through people, but its desired state must be known so that the entrepreneur can make the right recruitment choices.”Despite his young age, Keinänen has already been an entrepreneur for 20 years. He set up his first enterprise, in Kuopio, at the age of 15. Growth, internationalisation and financing are all interlinked. Growth has always been at the core of Keinänen’s enterprises as well.“Growth calls for bigger thinking, that is, leaving one’s own sandbox. One of the worst things is underfunding. Growth is always more expensive than you had originally thought,” says Keinänen.He agrees with Kim Väisänen, a successful entrepreneur who says that a company has only one crisis and that is the cash crisis.From bikinis to a growth trackStudies indicate that young people are eager to start their own enterprises. Young entrepreneurs have recently gained visibility otherwise, too, with the selection of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Jyväskylä last Friday.Last year this recognition went to Varusteleka, which has also sought growth outside Finland.One of the finalists this year was Biancaneve of Tampere, a maker of individual sports garments. Biancaneva was ranked third in the national competition. Entrepreneur Elina Loueranta acknowledges that she has also stepped on various mines.“My dream was only to make clothes. At first I didn’t even calculate any profit margins,” Loueranta says.The awakening came three years ago at a growth camp where other companies were making plans for internationalisation. “We were so small next to the others. One company was selling a million screws to Russia and we were talking about bikinis. We were asked if we really believed that we could grow and become international. It didn’t occur to me to answer that each bikini cost 600 euros,” Loueranta recalls.Not even all of the team members believed in growth. The entrepreneur says that one team member aroused doubt in the others, too.Intervening in the situation required a lot, but it was necessary.“I stood up from behind the sewing machine and started to look at the big picture,” Loueranta says.With its turnover of about half a million euros, Biancaneve is living a strong growth phase. This summer, the company is launching a webcam service that will allow customers to order Biancaneve’s tailored bikinis from anywhere in the world.At present, growth is brought by a luxury-focused sportswear collection designed for women. The marketing of this product line also takes the entrepreneur outside Finland.“We wanted to go abroad and we were asked whether we were ready to travel. Now this has come to pass. Relations can only be created face to face,” Loueranta concludes.FACT: Ways to break the glass ceiling on growthAccording to research, one out of five enterprises has hit the glass ceiling on growth.The main factors keeping a glass ceiling on growth are sales and marketing skills, the availability of competent staff, the acquisition of financing and the capacity of owners to take risks.Growth entrepreneurs believe that the glass ceiling can be broken if the management or the owners have sufficient capacity to take risks. That is the most important single way. Other important ways are product and service innovations, sales and marketing expertise, the availability of competent personnel and customer demand.Obtaining adequate financial resources is another tool for breaking the glass ceiling.This information is based on the Growth Enterprise Survey, conducted by the Kauppalehti business periodical and sent to 715 entrepreneurs, of whom 92 responded.There are several financing solutions for working capital needs and for starting business abroad.Text: Kimmo Koivikko