ISIF backs new €10m fund for Irish whiskey businesses
The State's Ireland Strategic Infrastructure Fund (ISIF) is backing a new €10m fund designed to lend to Irish whiskey businesses.
The fund has been set up by Ilen River Partners, which describes itself as a provider of "sector-specific capital to companies at each stage of their development".
Ilen is run by Fearghal Ó Ríordáin, a venture capital veteran who was previously a partner at Accel Partners and Scottish Equity Partners.
It said the fund has more than €10m available for whiskey stock financing loans and intends to grow as required to meet demand. The loans will be secured on borrowers' existing stock, and the fund said it would not seek to appoint directors to borrowers' boards.
"Whiskey businesses need to lay down stock early in their development in order to scale. However, given the long-term nature of the whiskey sales cycle, the businesses require financing solutions suited to a long-time horizon to achieve scale," Ilen said.
It said the fund will be supported by whiskey experts who will offer "key strategic and technical input to participating businesses".
Mr Ó Ríordáin said Irish whiskey exports are forecast to grow strongly in the coming years.
"Whiskey distilleries are playing an ever more vital role within the Irish economy. There were just two whiskey distilleries on the island in the early 1980s. There are now 18 distilleries in operation, with more distilleries in the pipeline, all contributing to Irish tourism, agriculture, trade and exports.
"As part of the lending process, the fund will provide flexible, tailored financing, strategic commercial advice and specialist industry expertise for developing and growing a whiskey business," he added.
ISIF, formerly the National Pensions Reserve Fund, has a mandate to invest on a commercial basis in a manner that will support economic activity in Ireland. It has backed a number of SME-focused lenders.