French firms to get easy loans from tomorrow

PARIS (AFP) – French firms facing a cash crunch will be able to get access to low-interest loans from tomorrow to help tide them over during the coronavirus crisis, said the head of the nation’s banking association.

As the French state has provided credit guarantees, “we will offer supplementary loans to all firms,” said the head of the French Banking Federation, Frederic Oudea, in an interview broadcast yesterday on the website of the daily Le Parisien.

“Every company can ask their bank for a loan up to an amount equal to three months of revenues,” added Oudea, who is also head of French bank Societe Generale.

He said the loans, which will carry an interest rate of 0.25 per cent according to Le Parisien, will be available from tomorrow.

France has ordered many businesses to close and for most people to stay home in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The EUR300 billion in credit guarantees are one measure the French government has taken to ensure that companies are able to survive the crisis, and officials have signalled they are ready to take additional action to ensure firms don’t fail.

Oudea said that firms that take out loans under the programme won’t need to begin repaying them for one year.

As worries rise about firms delaying payments to one another as they try to hold onto cash, the French Economy Ministry and Central Bank announced yesterday they had established a crisis committee to monitor the situation.