Growth Loan Fund celebrates two successful years
WhiteRock Capital Partners is today marking the second anniversary of the £50m Growth Loan Fund in Northern Ireland.
Since setting up in 2012 the investment managers have approved over 80 loans worth over £25m, with an average loan amount of £300,000. They have supported companies of all sizes, from those with a turnover below £500,000 to others with a turnover of £30m.
Finance for the £50m Growth Loan Fund – which provides loans to established Northern Ireland SMEs seeking to access growth finance – has been provided by Invest Northern Ireland and private investor, Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC).
The funding landscape has changed substantially over the last five years and it has opened up opportunities for the Growth Loan Fund. Previously companies would only have one institution meeting their funding requirements, now they are open to alternative options which complement existing funding in order to achieve growth plans.
Local banks have embraced WhiteRock’s product offering and accepted it as part of a successful investment structure.
Paul Millar, Chief Investment Officer, WhiteRock Capital Partners, said: “We are planning to approve £10m worth of loans every year and so far we are ahead of that plan.
Our aim is to support local businesses in striving to achieve their full growth potential. 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.”
WhiteRock Capital Partners has also experienced growth within its own team, taking on new members of staff to manage an increasing portfolio of loans and the success to date has opened up significant opportunities for the future.
Mr Millar added: “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.”
William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance, Invest NI said: “The Growth Loan Fund is a key component of Invest NI’s Access to Finance initiative that seeks to ensure that companies with high growth potential are not held back because they cannot access finance. Having entered the Northern Ireland market as a relatively new concept the mezzanine funding package provided by the Growth Loan Fund has established a clear niche over the past two years and is now recognised as a complementary funding package. The level of uptake to date demonstrates that the Fund has addressed a clear market need.”