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pounds 17m investment funds launched.

Byline: By Iain Laing

Two new investment funds worth a total of pounds 17m will be launched today (TUES) to help smaller North-East companies speed their growth.

The funds will offer loans and equity to small and medium-sized firms struggling to raise finance from traditional sources, helping them grow and plan ahead with greater certainty for the future.

The launch of the Evolve Mezzanine and NEL Growth Funds brings to pounds 115m the total amount of finance made available to regional firms over the past six years through publicly backed investment.

Hugh Morgan Williams is chairman of North East Regional Investment Fund Limited (NEIF), one of the primary backers of the two new funds.

"The completion of these funds means the North-East can boast that it has more money available to invest in small and medium-sized businesses per head of the population than any other English region," he said.

Barclays Bank has also contributed substantially to the funds. Steve Walker, Barclays relationships director, said: "Barclays is delighted to be involved in these latest funds.

"Their establishment has been an excellent example of public and private sectors working together for the benefit of the region."

Malcolm Page, One NorthEast director of corporate resources, said: "These two new funds complete a comprehensive suite of funding underpinned by publicly backed investment ( helping some of our most dynamic companies at critically important stages in their evolution."

The Evolve Mezzanine Fund offers unsecured loans of between pounds 15,000 and pounds 500,000 ( together with an equity option ( to companies with strong business plans, experienced management teams and a specific financial requirement that cannot be met by traditional sources.

It will be managed by Evolve Finance, the specialist debt and mezzanine finance division of Gateshead-based NEL Fund Managers Limited. NEL also manages the pounds 5m NEL Growth Fund, a fast-track funding stream of between pounds 50,000 and pounds 350,000 into companies with high growth potential, with a maximum of pounds 500,000 being invested in any one business.

Douglas Robertson, Director of Business Development and Regional Affairs at Newcastle University, said: "Access to funds for company growth and development is critical for the future success of the North-East economy and these funds are to be welcomed."
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 24, 2006
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