WESTBRIDGE has announced the final close of the WestBridge SME Fund following a successful two-year fund raising period.
The fund has raised £30 million from private high net worth investors and institutional investors including the South Yorkshire Pension Fund, and is supported by the European Union through its ‘Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme’, which is managed by the European Investment Fund.
Set up to provide investment to fast growing and profitable UK SMEs, the fund has already supported a number of businesses, including the MBOs of Kallidus, Aero Stanrew and Energist Group. A strong pipeline of future investment opportunities are currently under consideration.
The WestBridge team has already set its sights on a second fund of around £100 million to be raised over the next two to three years once the existing fund has been successfully invested.
Guy Davies, managing partner at WestBridge, said:
“We are one of only a very small number of first time teams to complete a meaningful fundraising in the current climate. Naturally, we are very pleased to have closed the fund.
“Our approach is unique and our aim of backing SMEs gives us a real edge in today’s market.
“Our fund and investor network includes an ever growing number of successful industrialist investors who have grown their own businesses, been there and worn the t-shirt. They have a lot of experience and knowledge to impart.
“They also know from first-hand experience that backing rapidly growing businesses, many family-owned, is a very exciting area of the market.
“We work closely with our network to support the SMEs we invest in – whether it’s providing constructive and practical advice or making business and corporate introductions – anything that ultimately helps enhance returns for our investors.”
James Wakefield, chairman of WestBridge, added:
“We are delighted to have received support from two prestigious private equity fund investors, the EIF and South Yorkshire Pension Fund. Both knew our principals and had been tracking us over a number of years.
“The WestBridge partners believe passionately in backing SME businesses and collectively we have one of the best investment track records in the industry, having all formerly worked in blue chip private equity businesses. We have all made a significant personal investment into the fund.
“Many high net worth investors have supported the fund as it gives them a route to the SME market which they would usually only be able to access through Fund of Funds where they would in essence have had to pay double fees.”
Sandy Smart, chief investment officer at WestBridge, said:
“There are many companies in the target market for our SME fund and limited funds available. Experienced investors like us can identify those companies with potential to provide strong investor returns. Whether they need development capital, acquisition funding or support for management buy outs, we can help.”
Valerie Kendall, partner at WestBridge, added:
“Management teams that partner with us should do extremely well because of the track record and experience of our team, which is significantly deeper and wider than many investors out there.
“Although we have a strong pipeline of potential transactions, we are always looking for high quality management teams to support.”
European Investment Fund chief executive Richard Pelly said:
"WestBridge targets small mid-caps, a segment of the market which is in urgent need of additional financing tools and is currently suffering from limited investors' interest.
“By backing this team of seasoned managers, we are convinced that innovative businesses in the UK will get the opportunity to grow into tomorrow's champions. This illustrates EIF's commitment to support the development of entrepreneurship in Europe".