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Belfast-based alternative to banks secures £15m of finance for its customers

By John Mulgrew

Published 20/10/2016

Expert: Conor Devine
Expert: Conor Devine

A Belfast finance firm that offers businesses an alternative to bank lending has secured £15m of funding for clients.

Conor Devine and James Gibbons said they set up Clearpath Finance in order to help businesses and individuals secure cash without going through the traditional banks.

Clearpath provides an alternative source of lending as a commercial finance broker, working with a number of major lenders across the UK.

"Like any new business, there has to be a problem before you bring a product to the market place," Mr Devine explained.

"The problem that people in the business community accept is there is a liquidity problem.

Mr Devine and Mr Gibbons have made contact with a number of UK investment funds that are now beginning to provide capital to companies based in Northern Ireland.

Clearpath's largest single loan so far amounts to £6m.

"We now have a suite of lenders who are prepared to back our platform and lend to the business community in Northern Ireland," Mr Devine said.

According to James Gibbons, Clearpath has lent to a range of sectors across Northern Ireland.

"There's a mixture of renewable energy, retail and hospitality," he said.

"We are licensed by the FCA. The funders we are speaking to are filling the void of the lack of liquidity from the local banks. Our turnaround time is normally between 48 and 72 hours."

The new company is in addition to the pair's debt advisory firm, GDP Partnership, which is based in Belfast.

It has dealt with hundreds of businesses and individuals caught up in the recession, including those who had loans sold to vulture funds such as Cerberus.

Mr Devine said: "In terms of feedback, good proposals are being turned down by the banks, for one reason or another. We saw an opportunity in the marketplace.

"We have a background in the legacy debt problems in Northern Ireland, and we understand the problems that are still there.

"We are trying to provide some alternative funding options for good, solid businesses."

The company is also dealing with an additional pipeline of £11m in funding.

And speaking about Brexit, Mr Gibbons said: "There are some funders who are not happy to lend to Northern Ireland just yet.

"They are maybe concerned about Brexit and the proximity to the border."

Belfast Telegraph

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