Beechbrook looks to boost regional SMEs with €35m State-backed fund
Beechbrook Capital has launched a State-backed growth fund for regional Irish small and medium enterprises (SMEs), run by former executives of Bank of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.
The Beechbrook Ireland SME Credit Fund has an initial purse of €35m, having secured matching €16m commitments from both the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and Certior Capital, a Helsinki-based private credit manager.
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Beechbrook managers say the fund seeks to grow to €100m within the coming quarter and support about 20 Irish companies with interest-only loans in the €2m to €6m range.
"We're interested in working with companies in any region of the Republic of Ireland that is seeking to grow. We know many companies in the regions are looking to scale and expand if they can find the right finance partner," said John O'Sullivan, joint head of investments at Beechbrook Capital Ireland.
"We could be working with pharma in Galway, engineering in Waterford, medical devices in Cork or information and communications technology in Wicklow. If you're a regional SME looking to grow in Ireland and internationally, the private debt we offer is a great way to do that."
Mr O'Sullivan said Beechbrook - which already runs two UK-based funds with €750m committed to lower mid-market SMEs in the UK and northern Europe - will provide Irish companies interest-only debt payments for three to five years, whenever their growth delivers sufficient profits.
"We're not a bank so it's more expensive. But it's also more flexible," he said, describing the terms as "competitive for a non-bank lender".
Before joining Beechbrook, Mr O'Sullivan was a senior vice president at Enterprise Ireland overseeing debt and equity investments in Irish, UK and US SMEs.
He oversees a new Dublin branch office. His fund management partner, David Merriman, operates from a new company HQ in Cork. Mr Merriman is a 30-year veteran of Bank of Ireland, including as head of enterprise development.
Certior partner Timo Hara said his firm wanted to help SMEs grow "particularly in undercapitalised sub-sectors of the European market. Beechbrook's Irish strategy is especially distinctive thanks to its Cork HQ and its regional Irish focus."