… as CC scoops Govt’s private equity initiative

Clifford Chance has been brought in by the Government to structure and design a groundbreaking private equity programme designed to promote entrepreneurial culture in the UK and to bridge the country’s equity gap.

The magic circle firm pitched against a number of firms and scooped instructions to advise the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on the launch of one high-tech and nine regional venture capital funds, which will invest in small UK businesses.

The UK high-tech venture capital fund, which includes a £20m commitment of Government money, invests in venture capital funds with a predominant focus on UK-based early stage high-tech investment.

The nine regional venture capital funds are designed to provide growth capital of around £250,000 to small businesses in various regions in the UK. To date, eight of the nine funds have held closings with £68m of existing Government investment, having attracted £162m from private investors.

Jason Glover, co-head of Clifford Chance’s private equity practice, said: “Our work for the Department of Trade and Industry on these and other projects consolidates our commitment to all sectors of the private equity asset class, and to the concept expressed by leading industry figures that private equity techniques and approaches can be harnessed to effect positive social change.”

However, Glover does not expect to advise the funds in connection with underlying investments, since the Government is not the controlling shareholder in any of the funds launched and therefore will not be responsible for instructing external advisers.

The Government holds a minority stake in each of the funds and has appointed fund managers to find institutional investors to take up the remaining shares. The DTI held separate beauty parades to appoint managers for each of the funds.

Of the eight funds that have closed so far, Eversheds has advised three fund managers. Corporate partner Ronald Paterson advised West Midlands Enterprise, which is managing two regional funds, and Midven, which is managing one.

Additionally, North East firm Keeble Hawson has advised four and Newcastle-based Dickinson Dees one of the fund managers respectively.