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Ward Hadaway advises on £17m North East fund extension

LAW firm Ward Hadaway has played a major role in the £17m extension of a multi-million pound venture capital fund which has already helped hundreds of businesses.

Expert commercial and corporate solicitors provided legal advice on the £17m top-up to the Finance for Business North East (FBNE) fund – also known as the JEREMIE programme.

Fund extension – Andrew Mitchell of North East Finance (second left) with (from left) Richard Butts, Julie Harrison and Colin Hewitt of Ward Hadaway.

Fund extension – Andrew Mitchell of North East Finance (second left) with (from left) Richard Butts, Julie Harrison and Colin Hewitt of Ward Hadaway.

The work carried out by Ward Hadaway advising North East Finance on this latest extension continues the firm’s long association with the fund, which dates back over six years to the original establishment of the JEREMIE programme and covers a total of £160m worth of funding for businesses.

At the start of 2010, Ward Hadaway provided legal advice on the operational set-up of the JEREMIE holding company and oversaw the final stages of the appointment of the individual fund managers.

Ward Hadaway advised on previous extensions to the JEREMIE programme and has provided legal advice on over 70 different investments in North East businesses made by the JEREMIE programme fund managers over the past six years.

Colin Hewitt, Partner and Head of Commercial at Ward Hadaway, led the firm’s team advising North East Finance on the latest FBNE fund extension, alongside Corporate Partner Richard Butts and Banking & Finance Partner Julie Harrison.

Colin said: “The Finance for Business North East fund has proven itself to be a vital part of business life in the region over the past six years, providing investment to over 850 companies, creating more than 6,000 jobs and attracting an extra £185m worth of investment into the region from other investors.

“As a firm, we are committed to supporting the region so it has been a real privilege to have been involved so closely with the project over the years and to be able to see at first hand the difference which it has made to businesses and the economy in the North East.

“We are proud to have played our part in advising on this latest extension to the fund, which is set to see investment in a further 100 SMEs across the region over the next nine months.”

Sources of funding for the extension include £4.5m from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and returns from earlier funds in the region, matched by the European Investment Bank, with a further loan of £8.5m.

The FBNE team at Ward Hadaway has been working on the fund extension since November 2015, liasing with the various organisations involved in the programme and their advisers, to create the final agreement.

Colin Hewitt said: “There were a lot of parties involved and a lot at stake but our experience advising on the FBNE programme and its predecessor funds and the specialist expertise of our commercial and corporate teams ensured that we helped to get the job done.”

Andrew Mitchell, Chief Executive of North East Finance, praised the efforts of the team at Ward Hadaway, saying: “Getting this extension over the line required a huge amount of effort from Colin, Richard, Julie and their colleagues.

“They demonstrated that we have real strength in depth in the advisory community here in the North East and the specialist skills to deliver these complex funds to a tight timetable.”

Money from the original Finance for Business North East Fund has helped a wide variety of companies from right across the North East and at different stages of development.

Ward Hadaway Corporate Partner Richard Butts, part of the team advising on the latest extension, has previously provided legal advice on a number of investments from the fund.

Richard said: “We have seen the funding and the mentoring from the various individual fund managers make a real difference to so many businesses across the region over the past six years.

“It will be great to see this effect extended over the coming months as the additional money is invested in further boosting business in the North East.”

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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