The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) is to partner with Ulster Bank to offer lower-cost SME loans.

The SBCI has committed €75m to Ulster Bank to allow it to provide SME loans with a discount of at least 1% on the bank’s existing loan rates.

The new products being offered include loans of up to €5m, with an option for customers of other banks, which have left the Irish market, to refinance their loans.

Ulster Bank is now the Irish fifth lender to offer SBCI loans for Irish SMEs.

Late last year the SBCI launched €75m of new loan facilities with Finance Ireland and Merrion Fleet Finance for SMEs seeking leasing, product hire and fleet finance loans, in addition to announcing an additional €200m facility for AIB to continue its campaign.

In total, the SBCI has made €400m available through AIB; €200m through Bank of Ireland; €50m through Finance Ireland; and €25m through Merrion Fleet; and now €75m through Ulster Bank.

Commenting on the announcement, SBCI Chief Executive Nick Ashmore said: “The €75m we have committed to Ulster Bank means we have now made a total of €750m available to Irish SMEs – that’s 94% of the €800m we started out with.

“The speed of take up tells us that there is a strong appetite for SBCI loans and that we are making a real and tangible difference to Irish SMEs.”

The SBCI was set up in 2014 to provide sustainable funding to Irish SMEs.

It is financed by Germany's KfW bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), the former National Pension Reserve Fund.