Lending to SMEs in Northern Ireland is set to be boosted by the Growth Loan Fund, which will be run by Braveheart.
AIM-listed fund manager Braveheart Investment Group has been appointed to oversee a £50 million Growth Loan Fund aimed at providing capital to small and medium-sized enterprises in Northern Ireland.
The new Fund will provide loans of between £50,000 and £500,000 to businesses in the manufacturing or tradable services sectors over the next five years. Recipients will need to demonstrate sales and profitability growth, or strong growth potential.
Braveheart is to sit, as lead bidder, in a consortium alongside NEL Fund Managers, which operates in Newcastle, and Belfast-based Clarendon Fund Managers.
The new fund is structured on a matched funding basis, with £25 million committed by Invest Northern Ireland and an additional £25 million from the private sector. The fund is to be managed on a ‘fully commercial basis’ and will be constructed as a limited partnership with a 10-year term.
Geoffrey Thomson, chief executive of Braveheart, comments, ‘As we have noted to the market on previous occasions, our strategy going forward is to increase the fee-earning side of our business whilst seeking optimal value realisations from our directly held portfolio, as and when appropriate.’
Thomson adds that through the appointment, Braveheart has now teamed up with two ‘respected’ fund managers.
Arlene Foster, enterprise minister for Northern Ireland, adds, ‘I have listened to the business community and I fully understand the frustration of the SME sector at not being able to access finance. The Growth Loan Fund is a practical measure which will help to address this problem.’
A key target for the fund is to provide capital to those businesses which export, and are looking to further expand sales in international markets, according to a statement.