Business operations

Finnvera reinforces the capacity and competitiveness of Finnish enterprises by offering loans, export credit guarantees and other guarantees. The goal is to shift the focus of financing to companies seeking for growth and internationalisation, enterprises seeking change, transfers of ownership, and start-ups. The year 2017 was characterised by the dramatic increase in the demand for export financing.

Finnvera to contribute more than EUR 2.5 billion to cruise ship financing

The order by Royal Caribbean Cruises is the largest financing project in Finnvera’s history. Such projects are not only major financing and export projects but also significant for promoting employment.

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Energy brings companies together in Vaasa

Financing solutions are often important in export trade. The Ostrobothnia region has become home to an exceptionally active hub of companies that promote one another’s growth.

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The Äänekoski bioproduct mill is the driver of growth in Central Finland

The Export Credit Guarantee Act was amended three years ago. Before that, it was possible for Finnvera to support major companies only by granting export credit for foreign exports. Now we can participate in the investments of major companies even in Finland.

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Highlights in 2017

  • The amount of SME and midcap financing granted totalled EUR 963 million.
  • The campaign related to transfers of ownership continued. Finnvera was involved in financing nearly 1,000 transfers of ownership.
  • Client satisfaction in the SME business operations as well as satisfaction among stakeholders and banks reached an all-time high.
  • The raised authorisations to grant export financing were taken into use – growth of financing continued to be strong, as predicted.
  • The acceleration of small-scale export trade transactions continued with new products.
  • The amount of funding remained at approximately EUR 2 billion annually.

SME and midcap financing

In 2017, the demand for Finnvera’s SME and midcap financing was EUR 1.5 billion, at the same level as in the previous year. Finnvera granted a total of EUR 963 million in financing to SMEs and midcap enterprises, showing a year-on-year decrease of approximately seven per cent.

The slightly lower volumes of Finnvera’s SME financing is partly explained by the fact that the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) replaces or complements Finnvera’s financing offering, and EFSI financing has proved to be easily found by Finnish enterprises. The volume of loans guaranteed for banks by the European Investment Fund (EIF) increased, as did Finnvera’s partial guarantees, growing to EUR 61 million. The utilisation of EFSI financing is a good example of the diversification of SME financing options.

All in all, Finnvera received approximately 18,700 financing applications, including applications for changes, from SMEs and midcap enterprises. Of these, 11,800 were new financing applications, and roughly 80 per cent led to a positive decision. The share of rejected financing applications was slightly higher than in the previous year. The majority of the negative decisions were related to small start-ups that were assessed as having no potential to operate profitably.

The average SME and midcap financing amount without export guarantees and export credit guarantees is approximately EUR 107,000, which is in line with the corresponding figure for 2016.

Finland has benefitted the most from EU corporate financing in relation to population

Finnish businesses have been keen to make use of the available EU funding. Of all European countries, Finland is the No. 1 beneficiary of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) in relation to the size of its population; in relation to GDP, Finland is sixth. So far, a total of EUR 1.4 billion of EFSI financing has been approved for Finland.

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Emphasis on growth and internationalisation

Finnvera’s goal is to shift the focus of financing to companies seeking for growth and internationalisation, enterprises seeking change, transfers of ownership, and start-ups. Work towards this goal has been successful. The above-mentioned enterprises’ share of the financing granted has grown, and the relative share of financing granted to so-called established enterprises decreased from the previous year’s 27 per cent to 20 per cent.

The share of financing granted to companies seeking for growth and internationalisation was approximately 40 per cent (38%), or EUR 385 million. The investment activity of companies seeking for growth and internationalisation took an upward turn in 2016, after a long period of decline, and both the number of projects financed and the EUR amount of investments financed continued to increase in 2017. The euro-denominated share of investments in the overall projects financed increased to 19 per cent (17%), and in the number of projects nearly one in five projects financed includes investments. The increase in software and service concept exports can also be seen in the structure of investments—the share of intangible investments is growing in a trend-like manner.

40%

The share of financing of companies seeking for growth and internationalisation was 40 per cent.

121 MEUR

Finnvera was involved in financing nearly 1,000 transfers of ownership, with a total of EUR 121 million.

30%

One of the goals is to increase the number of enterprises using export financing services by 30 per cent by 2021.

In 2017, the Growth Loan, launched for SMEs’ and midcap enterprises’ growth and internationalisation projects and corporate reorganisations, was used, among other things, to carry out company acquisitions and corporate reorganisations and to start up foreign operations. Awareness of the Growth Loan has been increased through cooperation among banks and financing advisers. The aim is to further increase awareness in 2018. This is important as the junior loan market in Finland is relatively small and undeveloped.

In 2017, the value of guarantees granted to SMEs for exports totalled EUR 66 million, or 14 per cent less than the year before. One of the strategic goals is to increase the number of enterprises using export financing services by 30 per cent by 2021. To promote the achievement of the goal, Finnvera will start developing an export financing advisory service for SMEs in 2018. The role of advisory services will become more central in Finnvera’s operations, as a continuation of the EU financing advisory service launched in 2017.

The outlook for the Finnish economy for 2018 is good. As growth continues, we assume that in the current year the demand for and granting of SME and midcap financing will remain at the same level as in 2017.

SME and midcap financing granted by sector 2017

  Industry Services to business Trade and consumer servicest Tourism Rural trades
MEUR 524,8 171,4 130,2 57,3 12,7

 

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The new financing model sealed the deal between the companies – the Growth Loan and a company acquisition boosted Paloff Group’s growth

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Turning the spotlight on transfers of ownership

The programme to promote transfers of ownership continued actively. Finnvera plays a significant role in transfers of ownership, not only as an expert but also as a provider of financing: a total of EUR 121 million was granted as financing for transfers of ownership, and this financing contributed to the realisation of a transfer of ownership in 984 enterprises. Nationally, the amounts were nearly at the same level as in the previous year.

During the year, transfers of ownership were highlighted in the partner network of entrepreneurs and business life, and the message about the importance of transfers of ownership as drivers of corporate growth gained more visibility than before. According to Finnvera’s estimate, the company acquisitions it financed helped to maintain or create nearly 2,600 jobs, which means that the company acquisitions also have an impact on employment.

The campaign to accelerate transfers of ownership will be continued in 2018, too, and we believe that the financing for transfers of ownership will still remain at a high level.

Transfers of ownership financed

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Transfers of ownership financed 107,9 87,6 116,5 140,9 121,3

 

CASE

An animated video about financing a company acquisition (in Finnish)

In a company acquisition, it is always a good idea to contact providers of financing at an early stage. This may make a EUR 500,000 company acquisition possible when the buyer has EUR 25,000.

High customer experience scores

The continuous measurement of the customer experience launched in late 2016 was continued, and the monthly Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for SME and midcap financing services ranged from 53 to 70, with an average of 61. This is an indicator of very high client satisfaction. In spring 2017, we repeated the extensive client and stakeholder survey, which also yielded very high NPS ratings. Client enterprises gave us an NPS of 70, banks 65 and stakeholders 81. Client satisfaction is based on solid personnel satisfaction, evident from the personnel satisfaction survey.

The active approach could be seen in the approximately 6 per cent increase in our meetings with clients and stakeholders, totalling approximately 4,500 in 2017. During the year, we also launched a more comprehensive customer experience development project and created a customer policy that defines Finnvera’s key client groups and how they are served. Our aim is to increase the number of client encounters also in contexts other than the processing of their financing applications. The goal is to make the use of our services smoother by introducing new financing solutions together with banks and by increasing the offering of electronic services to our clients, among other things. In late 2017, we launched a new client contact channel: chat.

We believe that our increasingly active approach and the development measures we have initiated will lead to high NPS ratings in the future, too.

Team Finland service model coordination at Finnvera was strengthened, and during the year Finnvera made 60 service proposals within the network. The goal is to promote the growth and internationalisation of SMEs as well as to make services easier to find and access.

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Export financing

Finnvera’s authorisations to grant export financing were raised as of the beginning of 2017, and the decision to raise the ceilings proved to be well-founded during the year. Demand for export financing grew as expected, and Finnvera granted export credit guarantees and special guarantees amounting to EUR 7.5 billion, which is nearly 80 per cent more than during the previous year. The amount of export credits increased significantly, too: the export credits offered by Finnvera totalled EUR 6.6 billion.

As an export credit agency, Finnvera plays a major role in financing projects when payment periods are long, and the significance of flexible financing solutions is further emphasised in export trade negotiations. Finnvera developed cooperation with other countries’ export credit agencies and took part in carrying out the first joint financing arrangement with other export credit agencies. The arrangement was conducted with Export Development Canada (EDC) to facilitate Nokia’s telecommunications equipment deliveries to the teleoperator Verizon in North America. This approximately EUR 1.3 billion financing arrangement is the largest telecommunications sector deal in which Finnvera has been involved.

Export credit guarantees that came into effect in 2017 by region

  North America Asia Middle East and North Africa South and Central America Other Europe Sub-Saharan Africa EU countries
MEUR 5129,5 455,4 362,6 208,5 176,6 114,6 70,8

 

Export credit guarantees that came into effect in 2017 by sector

  Shipping companies Telecommunications Power generation Forest industry Mining and metals Others
MEUR 3676,3 1883,3 305,9 241,7 17,2 393,7

 

The biggest country exposures on 31 Dec 2017

  United States Germany Russia Brazil Spain Uruguay Saudi Arabia Indonesia Turkey Kuwait
Offers 2392,5 532,0 265,4 3,0 9,2 0,0 0,4 0,0 1,1 0,0
Commitments 8421,1 2423,0 1026,8 1154,6 976,9 476,8 437,5 375,3 358,6 301,9

 

Finnvera’s export financing focuses especially on three sectors: telecommunications, cruise shipping, and forest industry. Measured in euros, the highest demand in 2017 was witnessed in cruise shipping and telecommunications. There is new demand for financing in the energy sector for Argentina and in the telecommunications sector for Nigeria, for instance.

Impact can be seen in exporting companies and subcontracting network

Major shipping orders focused on the United States and Finnvera contributed more than EUR 2.5 billion to financing the order for ships by the shipping company Royal Caribbean Cruises. This is the largest ship financing transaction that Finnvera has ever been involved in. At the same time, it is the largest individual financing project in Finnvera’s history. Such projects are not only major financing and export projects but also have a significant impact on employment both for the exporting company and the subcontracting network. This enables many sea cluster companies to make investments and plan their operations over the long term. Finnvera was also involved in the financing arrangement that enabled Meyer’s Turku Shipyard to make a significant crane investment.

Finnvera is involved in financing the entire value chain of enterprises that operate in the key sectors of Finnish export industry. An excellent example of the far-reaching impact of investments by large corporates is the Metsä Fibre's Äänekoski bioproduct mill inaugurated in 2017. Similarly, the enterprises of the Ostrobothnian energy cluster benefit from the export trade transactions of the leading companies.

Ostajaluotos-kaavio

High-quality risk management

Finnvera’s risk management attracted more interest due to the raised financing authorisations. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment commissioned an assessment on the rising demand for public export credits and export credit guarantees, on higher exposures and on the consequent risk to central government finances. The assessment was conducted by an independent, international team of consultants. The assessment published in March states that, owing to the structure of Finnish industry, exports are strongly concentrated in a few sectors, which underlines the importance of Finnvera’s risk management system. According to the report, the export financing system implemented in Finland by Finnvera and Finnvera’s risk management are at a high level in international comparison.

We constantly develop our risk management. As part of the company’s risk management strategy, Finnvera revised its portfolio reinsurance for export credit guarantees. The renegotiated, more extensive portfolio reinsurance entered into force at the beginning of July and is tailored to take the special characteristics of export financing into account. Through reinsurance, Finnvera prepares for increased exposures and, in particular, strives to mitigate the concentration of risks in certain sectors. In the future, we will invest heavily in reinsurance and other risk transfer methods.

Cooperation and an active approach towards stakeholders

Risk mitigation also involves active cooperation with other countries’ export credit agencies. In 2017, we carried out projects in which, together with Finnvera, export credit agencies from different countries took part in the buyer financing provided to globally operating Finnish export companies.

The Large Corporates unit continued to contact the clients of Finnish export companies and actively met both exporting clients and domestic and foreign providers of export financing in order to help Finnish exporters to conclude trade agreements. The goal is to maintain the high level of client satisfaction in the future, too.

The acceleration of small-scale export trade transactions continued with new products

Finnvera has promoted the financing of small-scale export trade transactions by concentrating on the development of trade financing instruments. In 2017, Finnvera introduced a new product, a Receivables Purchase Guarantee, to complement the Bill of Exchange Guarantee introduced to the market in the previous year. These products focus on transactions that do not exceed EUR 2 million. The Bill of Exchange Guarantee is suitable for individual capital goods transactions and the Receivables Purchase Guarantee for continuous exports with short payment terms. Both benefit exporters in that they receive the payment for the export trade transaction in cash terms when the bank discounts the bill of exchange or the accounts receivable while Finnvera carries the buyer-related credit risk. 

The full potential of the new products has not yet been seen but their number and EUR amount is expected to remain rather restricted. Nevertheless, even the new trade financing products may be significant as individual trade transactions may be important for a Finnish export company.

Finnvera’s traditional trade financing products are Credit Insurance that is granted to the exporter to cover the buyer risk and the Letter of Credit Guarantee that is granted to banks.

In Letter of Credit Guarantees, Finnvera carries risks related to foreign banks that open Letters of Credit when the banks that confirm Letters of Credit need risk sharing. The leading countries in the field of Letter of Credit Guarantees were Vietnam, Algeria, Nepal and Bangladesh, Nigeria, Indonesia and Iran.

For a long time, Credit Insurance has been linked with Finnvera’s role in facilitating trade with Russia: approximately one third of the credit limits granted in 2017 were related to Russian buyers. In terms of the number of Credit Insurance arrangements, the leading countries are Russia, Turkey, Ecuador, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Belarus. 

With Credit Insurance and Letter of Credit Guarantees, Finnvera complements the private market and is mainly involved in trade with politically risky countries; private credit insurance providers and banks take care of risk-taking for industrialised Western countries.

Financing of export credits in cooperation with banks

Export credit financing facilitates the arrangement of financing for foreign customers who purchase Finnish capital goods. Banks play a key role in arranging financing for export transactions: the bank selected by the buyer provides the client with a long-term export credit on OECD terms. The bank negotiates a credit agreement that meets the terms set by Finnvera and its subsidiary Finnish Export Credit Ltd, and manages the credit. The bank transfers the export credit to Finnish Export Credit for financing. Finnvera’s Buyer Credit Guarantee is always a prerequisite for the financing.

As a new financing instrument, Finnvera concluded the first Refinancing Guarantee Scheme with the Canadian company TD Securities and the French bank Natixis in 2017. Finnvera’s Refinancing Guarantee, granted to institutional investors or credit institutions, can be used in diversifying the funding of export financing. It is an alternative method to finance export credits instead of or in addition to financing offered by Finnvera’s subsidiary Finnish Export Credit.

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TD Securities and Natixis are the first financial institutions to use Finnvera’s Refinancing Guarantee Scheme

Finnvera and TD Securities have closed a refinancing guarantee allowing the refinancing of around USD 85 million which is a part of a USD denominated buyer credit guarantee facility in the amount of USD 200 million arranged by Natixis to finance Nokia´s deliveries of networks equipment and guaranteed by Finnvera.

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International cooperation

Export credit guarantee activities are regulated by a number of international rules and agreements aimed at curbing competition based on export credit terms. Compliance with and development of these rules require close international cooperation from Finnvera. 

Buyer financing arranged through cooperation between export credit agencies

Finnvera facilitated Nokia’s telecommunications equipment deliveries to Verizon, one of the leading teleoperators in the world, by providing financing and and guarantee.

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Risk mitigation is an element of export credit insurance

Through reinsurance, Finnvera prepares for increased exposures and, in particular, strives to mitigate the concentration of risks in certain sectors.

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Financing and an export credit guarantee decided a crushing and screening plant deal in Oman

The guarantee granted by Finnvera and financing offered by Nordea helped Metso to secure a contract in Oman, where Metso will deliver a crushing and screening installation to Al Tasnim, a local cement company.

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