Growth Equity Conference to identify £3.5bn of funding for local businesses

18 November 2016

Practice Area: Corporate - M&A


Northern Ireland business owners keen to scale up and accelerate growth and well established family owned companies should take advantage of development capital and private equity investors’ increasing appetite to invest in Northern Ireland.

That was the message ahead of The Growth Equity Conference, an event organised by law firm Carson McDowell and Goodbody Stockbrokers, which is taking place this morning at The Merchant Hotel in Belfast.

Guests will hear from CEOs who have successfully taken on external investment to fuel growth, as well as expert insights on recapitalisation and raising capital from the managers of eight successful private equity and development capital funds who are keen to invest in growing Northern Ireland businesses.  These funds, which have more than £3.5bn to invest, will discuss investment trends and experiences to date investing in NI companies.

Kainos Chief Executive Brendan Mooney, winner of the 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year award, will share lessons from the Belfast-based software company’s journey from Queen’s University spin-out to one of Northern Ireland’s few stock market listed companies. In addition, Learning Pool CEO Paul McElvaney will share his recent fundraising and acquisition experiences.

Brendan Mooney said: “Since Kainos was established 30 years ago, the company has benefited from the support of a variety of corporate shareholders, most recently in the listing on the London Stock Exchange in July 2015.  Events like the Growth Equity conference are important as it provides an opportunity to share our stories with growing companies about the funding options that are out there and for them to meet potential corporate partners who could help them reach their goals.”

Richard Gray, Partner and joint head of Carson McDowell’s corporate team said: “Despite the current challenging business environment, many of our clients continue to look for new growth opportunities and they need capital from a range of sources to accelerate those plans.

“Northern Irish firms in some sectors would traditionally not have considered taking equity investment from external providers, but that has changed and equity is becoming an increasingly attractive option – with clients such as RiverRidge Recycling, SISAF and Lowe Refrigeration among the firms who have recently attracted significant investment from major funds.

“As Northern Ireland’s economy comes to terms with Brexit and other global economic changes, we will need more of our businesses to scale up and to achieve their growth targets in an accelerated timeframe. That can only happen with access to the right level of funding and greater understanding of what can be gained from taking on equity investment.”

Don Harrington, a Director with Goodbody’s Investment Banking team, said: “The search for yield is driving an increased level of investment to private equity funds who are keen to invest and back ambitious companies.  NI companies are beginning to attract the attention of London based and international private equity investors including our recent AIM/ESM listed client and patient capital investor, Draper Esprit plc.

“Goodbody research would suggest there are at least 200 NI companies that would be attractive investment opportunities for private equity investors.  High growth companies looking for funding to expand internationally, mature family owned businesses considering selling to management teams, profitable companies selling minority or majority equity stakes and existing institutional investors seeking an exit.  All of these investment opportunity types are being considered by our private equity investors in Belfast this morning.”