The British Business Bank, the UK government-owned economic development bank, has today announced a £10.5m commitment to WhiteRock Capital Partners LLP’s new Growth Finance Fund. This is the first time that the Bank has invested in a fund aimed exclusively at supporting growing businesses in Northern Ireland.
The Growth Finance Fund will support loans from £500,000 up to £2m to established smaller growing businesses in Northern Ireland over the next four years. Companies seeking funding – the majority of which are expected to be operating in the manufacturing, engineering or tradable services sectors – must be based in Northern Ireland and be demonstrating existing growth.
As well as the £10.5m investment from the British Business Bank, further investment is being provided by Invest Northern Ireland (£7.5m) and private investor Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) (£12m).
The fund will be managed by Belfast-based fund managers WhiteRock Capital Partners LLP, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and has extensive experience of providing finance to Northern Ireland businesses.
Patrick Magee, CCO, British Business Bank, said: “The British Business Bank has been supporting smaller businesses in Northern Ireland since it was founded in 2014, so we are delighted to be investing in this dedicated loan fund for Northern Ireland’s smaller businesses.
“This £30m Growth Finance Fund will boost the supply of finance and further diversify the small business finance market, creating more choices for businesses and helping to meet our objective of reducing regional imbalances across the UK.”
William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance, Invest Northern Ireland, said: “We welcome the British Business Bank’s support for Northern Ireland business through the launch of this new fund. Following on from our recent announcements of Growth Loan Fund II and NI Small Business Loan Fund, this fund further extends the support available to businesses in need of finance to achieve growth.”
David Murphy, CEO, NILGOSC, said: “Around the world, pension funds like NILGOSC are seeking out a diverse range of positive returns including alternatives to the normal financial markets. We are delighted that this home-grown investment has arisen and look forward to working alongside British Business Bank and Invest NI.”
Paul Millar, Chief Executive, WhiteRock Capital Partners, said: “We are delighted to be working with British Business Bank to deliver a significant alternative finance option for Northern Ireland companies who want to access funding to expand and scale up. Over the past six years WhiteRock Capital Partners has helped more than 100 SMEs to invest in growth through the Growth Loan Fund and we know there is still a strong appetite for alternative finance options in the market.
“We will continue to work alongside banks, equity partners and asset-based funders to support businesses using the Growth Finance Fund, which will add to the extensive range of finance options on offer.”
At present, the British Business Bank is facilitating over £32.7m of finance across nearly 1,000 Northern Irish smaller businesses through its national programmes. It has also enabled £6.1m of funding through its Start Up Loans programme since September 2012.
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