Bank plans to invest 200m in small firms


Barclays is putting 200 million into a new venture capital programme for the firms it would not normally touch.

The bank says it is the first of the big high street banks to announce its support for Regional Venture Capital Funds, which are also backed by the DTI.

The idea is to provide venture capital for start-up businesses and young companies looking to expand.

Barclays says many such firms currently find it difficult to get equity investment because they need amounts well below the usual VC threshold of 1 million.

This new programme aims to plug the gap, with typical investments expected to be between 100,000 and 250,000, although some would say this is already addressed by the business angel community.

Each of the RVCFs will be managed as separate VC companies and run by independent fund managers appointed by the Small Business Service and supported by the regional development agencies.

A statement from the bank reads: 'This is the first in a series of initiatives from Barclays newly-created Urban and Regional Economic Development Unit, which has a 200 million remit, will work in partnership with the public sector to create financial packages for small and medium size businesses and for urban regeneration projects.

'It is the first time that a specialist unit has been established by a UK bank with the specific objective of developing tailored borrowing for business customers whose needs cannot normally be met by mainstream banking.'

First funds are due to become available later this year.

For the East of England contact Peter Dohrn at Innvotec 020 7630 6990.