Whiterock Launches New £75m Growth Capital Investment Fund in Northern Ireland

A new £75m equity investment fund for Northern Ireland has been officially launched today by fund manager Whiterock to address the need for growth funding in the local market.

The Growth Capital Fund 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.

Whiterock has been operating in Northern Ireland for more than 10 years. It has managed in excess of £150m across four funds and to date has deployed in excess of £120m, which has leveraged over £100m of further funding from other funders.

Owned by a local senior management team, Whiterock has provided debt funding to over 150 SMEs based in Northern Ireland through The Growth Loan Fund I and II, The Growth Finance Fund and more recently the Investment Fund for NI.

Whiterock has now successfully raised its first equity fund, with the British Business Bank investing 60% of the fund (£45m) through its Enterprise Capital Funds programme, and the remaining 40% (£30m) coming from private investors, including several local family offices and high net worth individuals.

Whiterock plans to invest in companies who can demonstrate clear sales growth and routes to market in a wide range of sectors and industries, including Digital, ICT & Creative; Fintech & Financial Services; Life & Health Sciences; Agri-Tech; and Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering.

Paul Millar, Chief Executive of Whiterock, said: “Whiterock has been actively supporting local businesses for over a decade and our well-established team has a proven track record of deploying funds in the market.

“While funding options have improved for companies, independent research has found there is still a clear equity gap in Northern Ireland when it comes to locally based private equity investors, particularly in the £1m-£5m investment range.

“The Growth Capital Fund is the largest ever locally managed equity fund for NI companies. It will invest in businesses with strong management teams and a demonstrated and proven business model, which have a high growth potential. We want to be a strategic partner that helps companies achieve their growth ambitions, while also generating attractive returns for our investors.”

Ken Cooper, Managing Director, Venture Solutions, British Business Bank, said: “The British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme is key in helping to develop and maintain effective venture capital provision in the UK, lowering the barriers to entry for emerging fund managers. The programme has backed 46 funds, representing more than £2bn of finance. Our commitment to Whiterock builds on that success and introduces a new funding option for scaling technology companies in Northern Ireland.”

Graham Ferguson, the former CFO of Newry-based technology company First Derivatives, will join Whiterock as Investment Director to work alongside David McCurley and Paul Millar, also Investment Directors in the fund.

The fund will also be bolstered by the appointment of a number of external consultants and sector experts to provide technical knowledge and experience.

Whiterock expects the fund to be deployed over a five-year investment period, investing in 15-20 companies during that time.