Ulster Bank has joined forces with BGF, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), AIB and Bank of Ireland to support entrepreneurial and scale up businesses across the country. Ulster Bank, through its relationship with RBS, and ISIF have committed additional capital to BGF’s long-term investment vehicle which has potentially up to €250m to invest in Irish SMEs.
BGF became the largest growth capital investor in Ireland when it launched in November last year with initial backing from ISIF, AIB, Bank of Ireland, and its existing shareholders.
With the combined support of all three of Ireland’s major banks and ISIF, BGF has driven an unprecedented increase in the supply of growth capital dedicated to Irish SMEs. Since its launch, BGF has grown to a team of four, led by Leo Casey, formerly of IBI Corporate Finance, and has been meeting with growing businesses across the country.
In Ireland, BGF will make initial investments of between €1 million and €10 million, with further funding available in subsequent rounds, into earlier-stage and established companies across every sector. The companies it backs will typically have revenues between €5 million and €100 million. In the UK, BGF has invested in more than 220 UK-headquartered since 2011, making it the country’s most active equity investor.
Leo Casey, Head of Republic of Ireland, BGF said: “Since our launch in November we have built a highly professional team and have met with individual businesses and business advisors from across the country to outline our offering. We have met with a very positive reception and are confident of investment activity in the coming months.
“We are in a unique position as the only equity investor to have the backing of the three major Irish banks. Importantly, we have an increased pool of money to invest and we will now look to build relationships across a wider network of promising businesses across the country.”
Eddie Cullen, Managing Director, Commercial Banking Division, Ulster Bank said: “RBS has been involved with BGF in the UK since it began in 2011 and we are delighted now to lend our support to BGF in Ireland. Ulster Bank offers sectoral expertise and support to businesses across Ireland so it made sense for us, through our relationship with RBS, to be part of the BGF here as we continue to help companies expand and fulfil their ambitions.”
Stephen Welton, CEO of BGF said: “There is a huge opportunity to help more of Ireland’s ambitious smaller and mid-sized companies, as well as entrepreneurs, to build bigger businesses. BGF is focused on working alongside Ireland’s funding community as a core part of broadening the availability of equity finance for growing companies. I am delighted that our launch and model of investing has been so well received and encouraged in Ireland and this latest endorsement will help to build on that momentum.”