Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Fund to help firms get on stock market

Danny Moore has years of experience working for the NYSE

Bell-Ringing mightn’t be top of the list of priorities for the owners of new businesses — but when the peal in question is emanating from the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange, it’s a different matter.

Danny Moore has set up ‘super angel fund’ Lough Shore Investments with an ambitious goal — to help bring 10 companies to an initial public offering (IPO) by 2025, ending Northern Ireland’s somewhat underwhelming representation on the stock exchange.

Mr Moore (38) the former chief operating officer of NYSE Technologies, admits to hedging his bets with a far-off target.

“When you put out a target of 15 years, the goal is to deliver in 10.”

He once toyed with farming as a career but took up mechanical engineering instead, doing a year’s placement in Gallaher’s cigarette factory near Ballymena.

Then followed a stint with financial software company First Derivatives, before a move to Wombat Financial Software in 2004. It was sold to NYSE Euronext in 2008 with Mr Moore as chief executive ringing the bell on the New York Stock Exchange to mark the change of ownership.

“I believe it should be the ambition of any chief executive officer to ring that opening bell having brought his or her company to a successful IPO,” he declares.

Mr Moore, who is originally from Glenavy, Co Antrim, parted company with NYSE in April, and his latest venture has happened organically.

“Without thinking about it I started to look at a few companies and started to talk to a few people, and we sat down in November and thought, ‘why don’t we do this properly?’ We thought we would build an ecosystem of accountants and lawyers and specialists in M&A work.”

And in an era where business coalitions are announcing targets to create thousands of jobs, he is staying away from such big promises.

He added: “A business like ours, 90% of the job creation will come from the companies [we help] rather than the fund.”

Lough Shore Investment has already investing in two start-up companies, one in technology and the other in renewable energy, though the exact identity of those companies is hush-hush for the time being.

But he is on the look-out for companies who want to expand aggressively but need support to do so.

His eye is on this old stamping-ground in the US, where most finance for the business will come from.

“I have strong connections in the US financial industry and the exchange business. The American investors have particular affinity with Northern Ireland.

But we are also having talks with people who want to introduce us to the Chinese and folk from the Middle East.”

And he wants to give credit to Northern Ireland politicians.

He said: “The politicians have done a great job in selling the idea of business in Northern Ireland.”

While his goals are ambitious, he has an eye on quality — investing in “just one or two good companies” a year is just fine.