Ward Hadaway helps bring £125m fund to North-East | 21 January 10

LAW firm Ward Hadaway has played a major role in bringing a £125m venture capital fund to the North-East.

Experts in the firm’s commercial and corporate finance teams provided legal advice on the operational set-up of the company which will hold the £125m fund and oversaw the final stages of the appointment of the individual fund managers.

JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises Initiative) is the first fund of its kind in England and has been set up by regional development agency One NorthEast with funding from the European Investment Bank, the European Regional Development Fund and the Agency.

It will allow hundreds of businesses in the North-East access to investment backing, potentially supporting more than 5,000 jobs.

As well as advising on the operational set-up of the JEREMIE holding company, Ward Hadaway also acted for the holding company to help secure the £125m funding and to agree and finalise agreements for how the funds are distributed and managed.

The firm, which has offices in Newcastle and Leeds, was appointed to carry out the work by North East Finance after winning a competitive tender.

Colin Hewitt, partner and head of commercial at Ward Hadaway, led the firm’s team on the project, alongside corporate finance partner Mike Spetch.

Colin said: “JEREMIE is a giant leap forward for the North-East in terms of securing capital funding at such a challenging time for the economy.

“We are committed to supporting the region and its economy so it was a real privilege for Ward Hadaway to be chosen to work on the project.

“The importance of the scheme and the complexity of the various arrangements involved within it posed a number of challenges so it was vital that we had the experience and expertise to tackle the project.

“I believe JEREMIE will make a real difference to North-East business in 2010 and is a reason for ambitious businesses in the region to look forward to the New Year with increased confidence.”

Ward Hadaway corporate finance partner Mike Spetch said: “It has been a very rewarding project to work on and being chosen by North East Finance for the work is a substantial endorsement of the quality Ward Hadaway possesses and our ability to field cross-departmental teams to work together on important projects.”

Andrew Mitchell from North East Finance said: “The JEREMIE Fund will make a huge difference to North East companies by providing vital investment for growth.”

Malcolm Page, One North East Deputy Chief Executive, said: “The fund is the first of its type in England and will help underpin a new generation of high growth small and medium-sized businesses in the region, potentially supporting more than 850 companies.”

The £125m JEREMIE fund will be officially launched on January 22 after opening for business on January 4.

It will initially be split into six individual funds, each run by an appointed expert fund manager.

The Angel Match Fund is aimed at smaller, entrepreneurial businesses in early stages of development and can partner with business angels to provide matched funding for later stage deals. Typical investments will be between £50,000 and £150,000.

The Technology Proof of Concept Fund will look to invest in very early stage businesses in the technology sector and will work with North-East universities, the region’s centres of excellence, start-ups and entrepreneurs. Typical investments will be between £20,000 and £100,000.

The Growth Fund will invest in more mature businesses looking for growth capital. Typical investments will be between £50,000 and £400,000.

The Seed Fund will invest in companies and pre-start enterprises in any sector with typical investments of between £50,000 and £750,000.

The Technology Fund will invest in hi-tech businesses at any stage of their development, typically investing between £50,000 and £1.25m.

The Growth Fund 500 will look to invest in more mature businesses who need a cash injection to make a step-change in their enterprises. The fund can complete investments of between £350,000 and £1.25m.

After the official launch of the JEREMIE venture capital fund, Ward Hadaway will continue to advise the JEREMIE holding fund company on issues as and when required.

For more information about the fund and to register interest, businesses should go to www.onenortheast.co.uk/jeremie

* Find out more about our Company and Commercial and Corporate Finance services.