Govt calls on SJ Berwin capital funds expertise

SJ Berwin capital funds expertise” />
SJ Berwin has landed a role advising the Government on its latest round of enterprise capital funds (ECFs).

The vehicles, which were first introduced following the 2003 Budget, are designed to bridge the equity gap experienced by early stage venture capital companies that are too big to be funded by friends and family, but too small to attract the attention of professional investors. Applications for the second round of funds, which were mooted last November, are currently being considered by the Government, which received 30 proposals.

SJ Berwin fund formation partner Simon Witney and finance partner Duncan Woollard are advising the Government on all aspects of the initiative.

Witney said: “The Government invites bids from people who want to raise an ECF. It does due diligence on those bids and assesses which ones are attractive. Once it’s selected the successful bidders the Government negotiates terms with them and we do that on its behalf.”

At this stage it is not known how many funds will be given the go-ahead, but in the first round, on which SJ Berwin also advised, there were six.

“The Government hasn’t said how many it’s doing this time round,” said Witney. “Once the successful bidders have been chosen we’ll negotiate the fund partnership agreements and do work on the closing of the funds. We’ll also advise the funds on their investments.”

Under the terms of the scheme, the funds, which will be allowed to invest a maximum of £2m in individual companies, will receive up to £25m from the Government.