by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Whiterock Finance has been accredited by the British Business Bank (BBB) to provide loans under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and intends to provide loans that complement funding provided by banks already approved for the scheme. CBILS provides financial support to smaller businesses across the UK that are losing revenue, and seeing their cashflow disrupted, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the scheme lenders can provide up to £5m in the form of term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance.

Lenders receive a government-backed guarantee for the loan repayments to encourage more lending and borrowers pay no interest or fees on the loan for the first 12 months. CBILS will be open for applications until the end of September.

Belfast-based Whiterock runs the £30m Growth Finance Fund and can provide loans to SMEs across Northern Ireland in the range of £100,000 to £2m.

Whiterock CEO Paul Millar said the loans Whiterock offers under CBILS will follow the same risk profile as its other loans, which will enable companies to supplement facilities secured from their primary lenders.

He said: “We are pleased to have been accredited to provide loans under CBILS as this will add to the range of solutions we can offer to SME businesses that require funding to get through the short-term impacts of coronavirus.

“The funding Whiterock provides is designed to be complementary to existing sources of finance and we work closely with banks and primary lenders. They should still be an SME’s first port of call. But where a senior debt provider cannot offer all of the funding required, we may be able to meet the funding gap or shortfall through other means as we have a higher threshold for risk.”

Whiterock also runs the £30m Growth Loan Fund II as part of Invest Northern Ireland’s Access to Finance portfolio, which is part funded by ERDF under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.

Paul Millar added: “In recent months we have continued to work with existing portfolio companies to support them, assess their funding needs and advance loans to some of them from our funds.

“But our risk appetite has not diminished and we are still open to lending more. CBILS provides an opportunity for companies to get a 5-year loan with no interest for the first year, which should be appealing in the months ahead.”


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