Posted on Monday 14 February 2011 by Ulster Business

Man with Macbook - Belfast Media Group

Photo courtesy of Belfast Media Group

Northern Ireland entrepreneur Danny Moore has set up a new company that plans to invest millions of pounds in local businesses.

Belfast-based Lough Shore Investments will to partner with ten high potential companies that it believes can bring to the point of a trade sale or float on the stock markets though an IPO (initial public offering) by 2025. Moore, who previously ran Wombat, a company that was sold to NYSE Euronext for $200m in 2008, plans to bring significant foreign investment to the local economy through Lough Shore. "Northern Ireland at the moment is extremely short of equity investment," he told Ulster Business. "We think the combination of hunger in the business community, combined with the shortage of both debt and equity financing, creates an opportunity to start working with companies here." The fund is currently privately financed, but Moore has set a goal of raising £100m by March 2012 by targeting US investors. Three or four investment announcements will be made over the next four months, all in companies with high quality management teams that have global aspirations, he said. "What's been missing in Northern Ireland has been people tapping in to the trillions of dollars that are out there on the capital markets looking for a good home," added Moore. "The focus on grant funding has meant that entrepreneurs have been looking inwards when actually they should be looking to the markets for funding." The precise goal of getting ten companies to IPO or sale by 2025 is partly driven by Moore's belief that the economic cycle won't turn for another five or six years, at which point he thinks M&A activity will begin to ramp up again. "Really what we want to do is manage the companies that we invest in from day one as if they are public companies, with tight governance, quarterly reporting, business plans. That's good business practice but also means outside investors know what they are getting," he said. "We have talked to quite a few people in the US, we think there is an appetite and that the money is there if we have the investable product."

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