RBS/NatWest make £1 billion available to manufacturing businesses
RBS and NatWest have pledged to make £1 billion of new loans available on competitive, flexible terms to UK manufacturing businesses.
The bank has ring-fenced a fund specifically for the manufacturing sector, with loans being offered on competitive fixed rates and with the option to defer repayments for up to three years.
The bank is launching its dedicated manufacturing fund in response to feedback from customers in the sector who are anticipating growing demand for their products during 2010 and beyond. The fund will provide loans designed to help those businesses finance investment and ensure they are poised to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves as the market for their products and services begins to recover.
Data published last week provide evidence for cautious optimism in a sector which, with nearly 168,000 manufacturing companies employing more than 2.5 million people, has a significant role to play in the UK economy. The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) survey of UK manufacturers staged a solid rebound in December to reach a two-year high, suggesting an underlying improvement in the performance of British industry.
Peter Ibbetson, chairman of business banking at NatWest and RBS, said: "We're beginning to see some encouraging signs for the manufacturing sector, but we can't forget the context they must be taken in, which is that this sector has been hit particularly hard by the recession and its return to full health will not happen overnight. We want to ensure we are doing everything we can to assist the sector as conditions begin to improve.
"As we see many of our manufacturing customers turning their thoughts to investment in order to drive competitiveness, we want to send a clear message of support to them by creating a fund that is designed specifically to enable that investment. We believe the fixed rate deals we are launching today are better than you would find anywhere else in the market currently."
Alastair Murray, Group Finance Director of Dairy Crest Group PLC commented: "Anything that is designed to help UK manufacturers invest for growth should be welcomed. The fund should be seen as a positive initiative in this respect."
The manufacturing fund is the latest in a series of initiatives launched by RBS and NatWest in support of UK businesses, including an SME Customer Charter, a customer support helpline, and a price promise and committed overdrafts for SMEs. For further information, please visit rbs.co.uk.