‘Strong demand’ from fast-growth businesses seeking slice of £75m equity fund

Whiterock confirms that first investments will take place ‘in a very short space of time’

£75m equity fund is launched
Pictured at the launch of the £75m Growth Capital Fund at Waterman House in Belfast are (from leftR) Sean McAllister (PlotBox), Carmel Mullan (FS Com), Paul Millar (Whiterock), and Eamon Donaghy (Uform) (Kelvin Boyes)

Fast-growth businesses in Northern Ireland have shown ‘significant interest’ on getting their hands on a slice of a new £75 million Growth Capital Fund being managed by Whiterock.

Details of the equity investment fund, first announced in March, were outlined at a launch event at Waterman House in Belfast.

Whiterock says it expects to make investments of between £1m and £5m for minority shareholdings in growth and scaling companies, with capacity for further follow on funding as required.

And the fund manager confirmed that it will be able to announce its first investments within the next few months.

Whiterock chief executive Paul Millar said: “Since announcing the fund, we’ve seen significant interest from a wide range of ambitious Northern Ireland businesses seeking an investment partner to help them realise their growth ambitions.

“This immediate demand means we will be in a position to close our first equity deals in a very short space of time.”

He added: “We have said that the Growth Capital Fund will invest in businesses across a range of sectors which have strong management teams, a demonstrated and proven business model and high growth potential.

“We have certainly found many companies in Northern Ireland who fit that criteria and we look forward to being a strategic partner to some of them.”

£75m equity fund is launched
Guests at the launch event for the £75 million Growth Capital Fund (Kelvin Boyes)

The launch event heard from a number of speakers who have been through the equity investment process, including Eamon Donnelly (Uform), Sean McAllister (PlotBox) and Carmel Mullan (FS Com), while Whiterock also detailed its plans to help bridge the equity gap.

Whiterock has been operating in Northern Ireland for more than 10 years. It manages in excess of £225m across five funds and to date has deployed in excess of £125m, which has leveraged over £100m of further funding from other funders. Owned by a local senior management team, Whiterock it has provided debt funding to over 180 SMEs.

The British Business Bank has invested 60% of the new fund’s capital (£45m) through its Enterprise Capital Funds programme, and the remaining 40% (£30m) has come from private investors, including several local family offices and high net worth individuals.

Whiterock expects the fund to be deployed over a five-year investment period, investing in 15 to -20 companies during that time across sectors including digital, ICT & creative; fintech & financial services; life & health sciences; agri-tech; and advanced manufacturing & engineering.