State aid: Commission finds €12.5 million Czech scheme to support SMEs’ participation in capital markets involves no aid

The European Commission has found that a Czech scheme to foster the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through capital markets (the so-called ‘IPO Fund’) does not involve State aid within the meaning of EU rules. The IPO Fund will facilitate initial public offerings (IPOs) launched by SMEs, by acquiring up to 30% of such offerings. The IPOs will be launched on multilateral trading facilities to be selected in an open call. The IPO Fund, which will be managed by a subsidiary of the Czech national promotional bank in exchange for a market conform management fee, will be funded by the Czech government using EU Structural Funds managed by Czechia. The indicative budget of the scheme amounts to CZK 334 million (approximately € 12.5 million) until the end of 2023. Under EU State aid rules, if a Member State chooses to intervene on terms that a private operator would have accepted under market conditions (the market economy operator principle – MEOP), then such an intervention does not constitute State aid and falls outside of EU State aid control. The Commission found that the IPO Fund will participate in the public offerings launched by the SMEs at the same time and at the same terms of private investors. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure does not constitute State aid within the meaning of EU State aid rules.The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.57590 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website.