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Chairman blog: Our approach in uncertain times

BGF News 03.30.2020

Following a challenging 2019, the world finds itself in an unprecedented 2020. Testing times are not entirely new to BGF, after all, we were created in response to the global financial crash of 2008. With the onset of Covid-19 – a huge financial, societal and economic challenge – our focus has been to prepare the ground and adapt BGF’s scale and capabilities to support both our existing portfolio and a larger group of SMEs facing these unprecedented conditions.

Having been formed in response to the 2008 crash, we are well placed to help businesses at times of economic crisis due to our well capitalised and permanent balance sheet, and our extensive reach. As a modern and collaborative business, we are fortunate that our colleagues working remotely for the foreseeable future presents no significant challenges to BGF, and I’ve been really pleased at our initial response to the changing circumstances. We recognise though that it will not be as easy for others.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 may prove too difficult for some companies to overcome, with the impact felt particularly hard by consumer-facing businesses in the leisure, entertainment and travel industries. But the companies that do survive will be stronger and with the right investment and support, they can continue to power the UK and Irish growth economy.

While recognising that some sectors will be disadvantaged as a result of these challenging situations, we believe they will also create opportunities for entrepreneurs. BGF’s broad approach across all sectors will help to mitigate some of this impact, and our focus and ability to invest in earlier stage will put us the forefront of the key sectors and industries of the future. To continue to ensure long-term impact and success, we want to be able to extend our offering to more companies in more sectors, across a broader range of stages.

BGF has been a purpose-led organisation from the outset. It is in our DNA. So, whatever the market situation, our goal remains the same, to create a significant investment capability for a wide range of SMEs across all sectors throughout the UK and Ireland. Despite the lingering fallout from 2008, several years of Brexit uncertainty and now Covid-19, we have proven a considerable demand for what we do, having identified a gap far bigger than anticipated and so catalysed a whole ecosystem. Our mission is to keep growing to fill that gap, helping more companies and attracting new sources of capital to power the engine of the UK economy.

At the same time, we need to ensure that innovation, science and R&D are equally supported to help drive the knowledge economy of the future. Outside of Covid-19, we also await a clear resolution to the UK’s future relationship with the EU and to assess the subsequent rules of engagement. Looking ahead, the broader test for BGF is how to continue to grow and maintain our successful formula and approach.

Before the impact of Covid-19, we saw a very strong start to 2020. The capability we have in place across earlier stage, growth and quoted investments, delivered regionally, is a really powerful one. By leveraging our experience from the past nine years, together with our financial strength, our unique approach and our extensive talent network, I’m confident we can rise to all new challenges.

Stephen Welton

Executive chairman, BGF