Northern Ireland

Manager appointed to £50m growth fund

The £50 million pound Growth Loan Fund was announced in the autumn of 2010, to help businesses who are struggling to get money from banks.

Now a manager has been appointed to be in control of the fund, and details of how the scheme will work are emerging.

Half of the £50m will be funded by the EU, and half through private money.

The Braveheart Investment Group, who are based in Scotland will manage the fund on a daily level.

But Braveheart Chief Executive Geoffrey Thomson said that his organisation are investing some of their own money, as well as being in control of who to gets the loans.

Mr Thompson said: "It is our job to put the money out fairly and squarely, in the right places and try and get the commercial returns we have promised our investors."

Braveheart have run similar schemes across the UK, but have not dealt with Northern Ireland before, so they are partnering with the Belfast-based Clarendon Fund.

The fund will have a more expensive interest rate, between 8 and 12%, but it will be easier to hold of the money. It will be 'unsecured', which means businesses will not have to match the funding they are applying for.

Mr Thomson said the kind of businesses that they are hoping to fund will be those in the growth phase, with an ability to service that debt with a maximum loan term will be of five years.

But he said: "We are happy to look at companies that are going through difficult times that perhaps banks wouldn't take a look at."

Braveheart said they hope to have the fund under way by May, and they will run a series of roadshows across Northern Ireland to help companies with the application process.

Hear this interview in full on theNI Business News Podcast

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