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FXW rolls out finance advice across S Wales.

Byline: Sion Barry Business Editor

AN independent corporate and private finance consultancy, whose staff have more than 200 years' combined banking experience, has embarked on a major expansion drive across South Wales.

FXW Commercial Finance, based in Newport, has just opened an office in Swansea and is seeking premises in Cardiff to serve the capital.

The company is currently experiencing the highest-ever demand for its services, partly due to the turmoil in the money markets.

FXW, formerly Finance Exchange Wales, was founded five years ago by directors Paul Crane and Simon Harrison, whose long careers at senior levels with Barclays Bank have given them an in-depth knowledge of the finance industry.

As the bank's corporate director for South-East Wales, Mr Crane, a former area president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, managed a team of 12 with more than1,000 corporate clients.

Among many high-profile deals and transactions, Mr Crane's team helped secure the European funding essential for the establishment of Finance Wales.

Mr Harrison spent 19 years with Barclays. At 27, he was one of the bank's youngest corporate managers and latterly oversawa portfolio of 100 corporate clients with turnovers ranging frompounds 1mto pounds 25m.

FXW currently employs nine, with further recruitment in the pipeline. Four are based at the firm's new office on Swansea's Enterprise Business Park, fronted by two more highly experienced former bankers, Jan Stephens - who spent the past three years working with new high-growth start-up companies in Wales - and Mike Hayden, a former senior manager at Barclays in West Wales.

The Newport office in the Centre for Business, Devon Place, is fronted by Clive Jones, who was with HSBC for 30 years, latterly as a senior manager in corporate banking.

FXW's corporate arm specialises in arranging all aspects of business finance, including expansion capital, commercial mortgages including buy-to-let, cash flow finance and payroll funding. It offers full financial reviews. More recently the firm has been involved in a number of MBOs and MBIs.

FXW also has a sister company, FXW Financial Planning, headed by career banker Mike Evans, which deals with private finance, including residential and buy-to-let mortgages.

Mr Crane said; "The effects of the credit squeeze and economicbelt-tightening are being felt across society - wherever people need money to purchase, support or expand a business or buy property.

"There are still deals available, but finding them and negotiating the best terms in the present climate is often a challenge for many borrowers.

"Our strength is our contacts and experience in the money markets - we are dealing with unprecedented levels of inquiries."

He added: "Where necessary, to help business owners obtain vital funding at the best available rates, we look at their books, advise on their business plans and package their applications professionally before approaching a range of banks."

Mr Harrison, who became a company doctor-type adviser for Barclays clients nationwide, said: "We are very pleased to have been able to bring together such an experienced team, who have arranged everything from domestic mortgages to an pounds 18m loan for a caravan park.

"Our client list has grown to 300, including many SMEs.

We managed to secure 100% funding from one bank for a client who wanted to buy a hotel in Brecon - after he had several rejections doing the rounds himself.

"We know what lenders are looking for; often the right answers are there - the key is making sure they are brought out and the proposition is presented correctly."


EXPANDING: The directors of FXW Finance Simon Harrison and Paul Crane
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 2, 2008
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