THE National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) is poised to make a "significant announcement" on its plans to fund small and medium enterprises by entering into a partnership with London-based investment firm, BlueBay Asset Management LLP.
Teaming up with BlueBay, which is part of the Royal Bank of Canada's investment arm, is one of a number of initatives planned by the NPRF to provide equity, credit and recovery investment to the SME sector. These plans are near completion and an announcement by the NPRF is imminent, according to someone close to the matter.
In December's Budget, the Government announced that it was developing funds for SMEs ranging from €100m to €400m. However, it is understood that BlueBay's involvement will bolster the NPRF's fund beyond €400m.
BlueBay, who declined to comment, launched a Private Lending Business in 2011 designed to facilitate the flow of credit to small and medium enterprises in Europe.
At the time, BlueBay CEO Hugh Willis said: "With the banking system post-2008 continuing to limit European SMEs of credit, BlueBay, together with RBC Global Asset Management, considers this new business initiative to be an important one. Not only does it represent a compelling opportunity for investors, it also provides a fresh source of finance for European SMEs at a time when this is needed."
Anthony Fobel, who heads up BlueBay's Private Lending Business, said that "BlueBay's Private Lending business, through its existing and new dedicated funds, will provide much needed capital solutions to European SMEs.
"While increasingly commonplace in North America, this form of private capital funding is a relatively new development for the European asset management industry. I look forward to helping to build a strong private debt business for BlueBay to complement its existing, market-leading, public leveraged finance business."