'The range of capital options available to Irish SMEs has never been as diverse and extensive as it is today'

Leo Casey, head of the Business Growth Fund in the Republic of Ireland on new trends emerging in the SME industry

5th April, 2019

What's your name?

Leo Casey

What position do you hold?

BGF is the largest growth capital investor in Ireland and the UK and I head up the company’s operation in Ireland

What are your day to day responsibilities?

BGF has up to €250 million to invest in growing Irish SMEs. I lead a Dublin based team as we seek to invest this capital and build a portfolio across the country in the coming years. My principal day-to-day responsibilities involve meeting with business owners from across the country who want to discuss what we have to offer, executing new investments, managing the investments we have already made, promoting BGF’s minority equity offering and managing the Dublin office and team. BGF is a large organisation with 14 offices across the UK and Ireland and we get a lot of support from our colleagues in the UK as we build up the Irish business.

What is your professional background?

I trained as a chartered accountant with PwC and subsequently moved into corporate finance. Prior to joining BGF, I spent 17 years with IBI Corporate Finance advising on M&A transactions and capital raising.

You are speaking at the 2019 Growth Capital Summit. What are you speaking about?

Two of the key differences between BGF and other investors are:

- we operate what we call a “patient capital model” which means we can be investors in businesses for the long-term, if required, and

- we only take minority positions in companies. I’ll be explaining why these are attractive options for growing SMEs and I will use case studies to demonstrate how our model is already working for Irish entrepreneurs and family businesses.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

We’ve had a very good year. We completed our first two Irish investments in Ireland - Brindley Healthcare and house builders, Winterbrook. We brought together a great team of investors and we’ve built an exciting pipeline of investment opportunities across the country – so lots of highlights.

What’s next for your company?

Ramping up our investment activity and adding as much value as we can to the companies in our portfolio. BGF is by some measure the most active equity investor in the UK and we expect the same to apply in Ireland.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

The range of capital options available to Irish SMEs has never been as diverse and extensive as it is today which is very encouraging. I think our minority equity offering has an important role to play in this new ecosystem of funding options and I’m very excited about that.

Leo Casey is speaking at the Growth Capital Summit at Croke Park on May 30th, 2019. Full details are available at capitalsummit.ie

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