£150m HSBC lending fund to help Norhtern Ireland firms navigate withdrawal from EU
HSBC has announced a £150m lending fund to help small and medium-sized local firms cope with Brexit.
The bank said it was part of its aim to help companies realise their growth ambitions.
The initiative is part of a wider £14bn fund for firms around the UK which has ring-fenced cash for international businesses and the agriculture sector.
HSBC said it had doubled its potential funding for international business to £2bn and tripled its pot for agriculture from £300m last year to £1bn.
Last year the fund provided £15m in backing to homeware and giftware manufacturer Ulster Weavers, based in Holywood, Co Down, enabling the business to buy a bedding and curtain company in Manchester - a deal announced in March.
Scott Solberg, HSBC UK's regional corporate banking director for Northern Ireland, said: "The launch of this year's fund shows our commitment to support the growth aspirations of SMEs across Northern Ireland.
"This fund is all about helping businesses to take new opportunities and grow.
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"We want to reassure them that we're here to support them to achieve their goals."
Amanda Murphy, head of commercial banking at HSBC UK, added: "Our SME fund will help companies to seize new opportunities for growth at home and overseas.
"We have always supported ambitious businesses and we see it as our responsibility to be there for our customers whether conditions are benign or challenging.
"This year's fund is part of a broader range of initiatives that we have in place to support British business as they navigate Brexit in a fast-changing world."
As part of Brexit preparations, HSBC said it had also launched a dedicated helpline for customers with EU withdrawal-related financial concerns.
The bank said it had had more than 15,000 conversations with customers about Brexit so far this year.
It has also held more than 60 sessions across the UK to talk to SMEs about the current economic landscape and how to plan for growth.