Belfast Telegraph

Manager firm of loan fund shows £1.7m year loss

By David Elliott

One of the investment firms charged with delivering Invest NI's £50m Growth Loan Fund made a loss over the last year, according to its latest results.

Braveheart Investment Group is part of Whiterock Capital Partners, a group set up to manage Invest NI's fund which aims lend money to small and medium-sized businesses in Northern Ireland.

According to a filing at the London Stock Exchange it made a loss of £1.7m in the year to the end of March, up from a £1.3m loss a year earlier, results which were in-line with expectations, according to brokerage Merchant Securities.

Analyst Amisha Chohan said the business will reduce its losses to £200,000 in 2013 and should make a profit in 2014. She said its shares, currently trading around 16p each, are cheap and advises buying the stock.

"The transformation from an investment company into an asset management business, with over £126m of funds under management substantially improves the quality of earnings - this is not reflected in the valuation," she said.

Mike Foster, an analyst at Hardman & Co in London, said the investment firm should benefit from focusing on local projects.

"The more recent local funds focus in Northern Ireland and Yorkshire gives them a solid raison d'etre from local funding of small to medium businesses," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"This local contact (away from unwieldy global titans) does seem a sensible way forward."

But moving back in to the black won't be instant.

"We do note however that it may be some years before profits are reported," he said.

Geoffrey C B Thomson, Chief Executive Officer, said the company had gone through considerable change in the last year.

"This year has seen a major transformation of our business and we are now an SME focussed fund and services management provider.

"The next few years will see us consolidate our market position as a leading manager of equity and equity linked products to the SME market."

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