Monday, 20 December 2010

North West Fund for Businesses launched

The North West Business Finance Ltd - backed by the soon-to-close Northwest Regional Development Agency, the European Regional Development Fund  and the European Investment Bank - has announced it is ready to make investments from The North West Fund, which could help new local busineses create new jobs.

The North West Fund - the umbrella name for the six funds that are now available to Northwest businesses to provide debt and equity finance from £50,000 to £2 million to small and medium sized businesses based in, or relocating to, the North West of England to start, develop and grow - is a new £185m evergreen fund for North West businesses.

It's also one of the largest public sector funds of its kind in Europe and the largest in the UK. Between 2010 and 2015 the Fund is expected to create/safeguard almost 14,000 jobs and improve the economic performance of England’s Northwest with an estimated GVA increase of £700m.

Initially, £170m of The North West Fund will be allocated to six Fund Managers, who then have a mandate to invest their allocation into the specific product or sector they manage, before 31st December 2015. The £15m remaining will be available for further allocation and investment through to the end of 2015. Such further allocations will be made as investment needs become more apparent.

The North West Fund is made up of a £92.4m ERDF grant, making it the biggest ERDF project of the 2007-13 programme, and a £92.4m loan from the EIB. The six Fund Managers appointed have also been targeted with securing over £200m of co-investment capital from a wide range of sources including; finance angels, banks, pension funds, venture capital, private equity investors, and other private funds.

It's expected that this initiative will generate total funding in excess of £400m.

The fund managers, who include AXM Venture Capital, managing some £15 million for Digital and Creative projects and YFM Private Equity, managing £45 million of development capital, will operate 13 offices across the North West and, at peak, are expected to employ 48 professional staff based in the region focused on deploying and managing The North West Fund.

“I'm delighted that I can, at last, confirm that The North West Fund is open for business," said Andy Leach, Chief Executive Officer of NWBF. "Whilst it has taken longer than expected to establish, I believe that The North West Fund is now in a position to provide investment capital to a range of businesses across the region at a critical time. This funding will allow these businesses to deliver their own growth plans in, what continue to be, challenging economic times when the availability of alternative funding remains tight.

"Having worked closely with our six Fund Managers over recent months, I am confident that they have the requisite expertise and understanding of the region and their targeted sectors, to ensure that The North West Fund delivers an enduring legacy.”

The NWDA has been working for over two years on the development and creation of The North West Fund from drawing-board to launch and will continue to support it until the closure of the Agency in March 2012.

“The combination of the Agency’s expertise and knowledge has delivered a significant evergreen fund which will help hundreds of businesses to grow and is one of the major legacy projects the Agency is leaving for the region," feels Robert Hough, Chairman of the NWDA.
"The NWDA has worked extremely hard on this complex project over many months with various bodies in the UK and Europe to secure this vital fund for the Northwest. The North West Fund is an important initiative that will leverage hundreds of millions of pounds of private sector investment and, as an evergreen fund, will benefit businesses in our region for many years to come.”

• The North West Fund is now live and applications can be made on-line at www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk . An event to mark the official launch of The North West Fund will take place in the New Year.

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