Business Growth Fund may help more firms

There is the possibility that the Government’s Business Growth Fund, aimed at supporting fast-growing companies that would otherwise struggle to find funding, may be extended to more firms than were included in the original remit.

The fund was launched in May and was intended to provide Government-backed investments of between £2 million and £10 million in businesses with an annual turnover of between £10 million and £100 million.

It is being run with the support of five major high street banks: HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, RBS and Standard Chartered.

However, the Business Growth Fund’s chief executive, Stephen Welton announced in a press interview with the Daily Telegraph that the monies may now be targeted at firms with a turnover of between £5 million and £50 million per year.

Mr Welton said: “The investment case drives us, not turnover. If we rigidly applied a £10 million cut-off in Scotland and Wales, you’d exclude many, many businesses. I think the core market where there’s a lot of demand is between £5 million and £50 million.”

He also suggested that the size of the business may not be the only important criterion. Ambition and innovation will play a part too.

Mr Welton continued:  “A company turning over £10 million is of a size where it’s suitable to take on a partner but it might not be a very interesting company. A company turning over less that has grown quickly and has a good management team, we will look at.”

Mr Welton added that a firm with sales of £5 million but growing at 40 per cent would be “interesting”.

It wasn’t all good news for SMEs though. Much smaller firms, perhaps with sales of just £1 million, would be “highly unlikely” to gain the backing of the fund.

The first beneficiaries of the Business Growth Fund are to be made public in September.