Posted on Wednesday 29 October 2014 by Ulster Business
William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance, Invest NI with Paul Millar, Chief Investment Officer, WhiteRock Capital Partners
The fund aimed at boosting the level of lending to small and medium-sized (SMEs) companies in Northern Ireland has already lent half of its £50m target, according to the company in charge of administering the loans.
Whiterock Capital Partners said it has approved 80 loans worth over £25m since setting up the £50m Growth Loan Fund two years ago in front of backing from Invest Northern Ireland and private investor, Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC).
The loans have averaged £300,000 each and have been made to companies with turnovers ranging from £500,000 up to £30m.
Its objective was to provide unsecured funding to established SMEs as a result of a bottle neck of lending from the more traditional institutions following the credit crunch and global recession.
Whiterock acknowledged the funding environment in Northern Ireland has changed over the last five years as the economy recovers but felt the change opened up new opportunities for the fund.
That’s help it lend 50% of the total fund in only two years of a five year life cycle.
“We are planning to approve £10m worth of loans every year and so far we are ahead of that plan,” Paul Millar, Chief Investment Officer, WhiteRock Capital Partners, said. “Our success is thanks to the breadth of companies from whom we are receiving enquiries. We have been working across all sectors, from engineering companies like Williams Industrial Services to household names like Budget Energy and well-known consumer brands such as Vita Liberata.”
And the funds success could mean others emerge from Whiterock.
“We are working with the British Business Bank to develop a £50million fund designed for SME trading businesses in Northern Ireland with a property overhang from the recession. We are also considering running a similar Growth Loan Fund for SMEs in the Republic of Ireland. So far, more than 350 companies have made enquiries about our funding opportunities and we are continuing to work our way through these applications. We aspire to be the lead provider of alternative funds in Ireland.”