Wales Fund Managers announces launch of £50m WestBridge SME Fund

WFM has announced from its headquarters in Cardiff, that it expects to formally launch the WestBridge SME Fund (the “Fund”) in the summer.

The Fund has been extensively premarketed and expects a first close of between £15m and £20m, before a targeted final closing of £50m in mid 2010. As Wales’ only independent Fund, it is targeted at SME companies throughout the UK and will be invested from the company’s offices in Cardiff and Reading.

With a proud heritage in Wales, it is envisaged that at least £15m of the fund will be invested in Welsh companies.

The Fund will be suitable for both traditional institutional investors and certain high net-worth individuals. WFM’s shareholders are convinced that SME firms are best placed to grow in the current market, and will be personally investing 5% of the Fund, up to a maximum of £2.5 million.

WFM already has a strong pipeline of investment opportunities and has recently recruited two new investment managers, Scott Barham and Bryony Ellison, to help analyse and review these transactions.

WFM invests between £1m and £5m in established, profitable companies and expects to grow its team to approximately eight investment professionals to invest the fund.

Guy Davies, CEO said:

“Being the only fund of its kind in Wales, we are grateful to have been welcomed into the business community in Cardiff, and are looking forward to working with the people we have met and who are supporting the development of our business.”

Chris Nott, Senior Partner, Capital Law comments:

“Wales Fund Managers’ SME fund will fill a space in the equity funding market that is both underserved in Wales and more widely across the rest of the UK. Its fund will support the development of Welsh businesses and I support their ambition to build a truly UK focussed business. I am delighted that the business will be led from Cardiff and Guy and his team are, in my view, a welcome addition to the Welsh business community.”

Frank Holmes, Senior Partner, Gambit Corporate Finance said:

“For a long time, the local market has waited to see a local private equity investor focusing on equity investments up to £5m. This will open up opportunities for SME’s to receive the backing of equity investment with quality and quantum - supported by a high calibre team. The Wales Fund Managers team comprises extremely experienced investors with a strong track record of creating value in this segment. I believe their fund structure, by including a large proportion of high-net worth investors, is well suited to support the growth of SME’s. We are looking forward to working with Guy and the team.”