Belfast Telegraph

Invest NI £50m fund to start lending by summer

By David Elliot

The managers appointed to run a new Invest NI £50m loan fund expect to pay out its first loans to small and medium sized businesses in July.

It will provide loans of between £50,000 and £500,000 in a move designed to get money flowing to SMEs who haven't been successful in obtaining loans from banks and other lenders.

Braveheart Investment Group, lead bidder on the project, has also established a separate company to distribute the fund, WhiteRock Capital Partners.

It will be headed by Chief Investment Officer Paul Millar with effect from today and the group said it also hopes to appoint two investment managers 'in the near term'.

Mr Millar joins WhiteRock from Bank of Ireland, where he has worked since 2005 in a number of senior roles. He was previously employed at Deloitte -amp; Touche and KPMG.

WhiteRock will launch a marketing roadshow on May 28 2012 before taking applications for loans on June 1. It intends to make the first loans to SMEs by the end of July.

The fund will be made up of £25m from Invest NI while the remainder will be made up of "private sector commitment" of which Braveheart has put up £250,000.

The other managers behind the fund are NEL Fund Managers Limited and Clarendon Fund Managers Limited.

"We have made considerable progress since announcing our involvement in the NI Growth Loan Fund on February 29," Geoffrey Thomson, Chief Executive of Braveheart, said. "The establishment of WhiteRock Capital Partners is a significant step and underpins our strong relationship with our two partners.

"In Paul Millar, WhiteRock has secured the services of a senior professional in the financial services sector with extensive experience in corporate lending."

£500,000

The largest amount that the fund is expected to loan to small businesses

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