World News

Finland adds crisis funding top-up for mid-cap companies

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland’s government will introduce a 150 million euro ($162 million) investment programme to help mid-cap companies to survive the economic blow caused by the coronavirus outbreak, it said on Friday.

The new funding comes on top of previously announced bailout measures amounting to a billion euros, in addition to securing 10 billion euros in company loans via the state’s financing and export credit company Finnvera.

“This is the worst phase in Finland’s economic history,” economics minister Mika Lintila told a news conference.

The additional investment will be managed by the state’s capital investment company Tesi, which will invest up to 10 million euros in viable mid-cap companies with annual revenue of at least 10 million euros and which employ at least 50 people, Lintila’s ministry said in a statement.

By Friday, 332,973 workers faced statutory negotiations over dismissals or temporary lay-offs in Finland, excluding those employed by companies with less than 20 employees, ministry data showed.

The government’s other new measures to shield the country from the crisis include temporary interest rate caps on unsecured consumer loans and on debt-collection charges.

The interest rate on consumer loans will be capped at 10%, down from a 20% cap, justice minister Anna-Maja Henriksson said, adding that direct marketing of unsecured loans to consumers will be banned until the end of the year.

The restrictions on such loans, which are often marketed aggressively and target people on low incomes who may struggle to obtain funds from traditional retail banks, is aimed at protecting citizens from excessive indebtedness as the economic impact of the virus deepens, Henriksson said.

Finland will also introduce temporary legislation to allow companies to postpone annual general meetings past usual deadlines, she added, allowing time for alternative online solutions to be found while the government’s ban on public meetings of more than 10 people remains in force.

(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Alison Williams and David Goodman)