The Future Fund has now opened for applications, giving businesses affected by Covid-19 an essential lifeline.
Under the new corporate finance facility, UK-based companies can apply for a convertible loan of between £125,000 and £5 million, providing it is matched by private investment.
If the borrower fails to repay the full loan amount, it will automatically convert into discounted equity – effectively making the UK Government a private shareholder.
The Treasury says convertible loans offer an affordable, alternative option to businesses that are “unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit”.
BJ Chong, a Partner with Palmers who specialises in corporate finance, said: “To apply, your business must have been incorporated in the UK on or before 31 December 2019; have raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third-party investors in the last five years; and none of its shares are traded on a regulated market, multilateral trading facility or other listing venue.
“Additionally, half or more employees of the company must be based in the UK, or half or more revenues are generated from UK sales.”
To get started, the private investor (or consortium) and company should ensure they meet the scheme eligibility criteria before submitting a full application with the British Business Bank, which is administering the scheme.
Welcoming the scheme, Michael Moore, Director General of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA), said: “The Future Fund is hugely significant and very welcome. For many venture capital-backed businesses it will build the bridge from today’s severe challenges to the period of recovery, enabling them to survive then thrive.
“The post-COVID economy is likely to look very different to today’s. The global leadership of venture capital-backed companies in the digital, high technology and life science parts of the UK economy will be critical to the UK’s success and this government support will help them to do that.”
BJ added: “The scheme is now open for applications until the end of September 2020. During this unprecedented time, many businesses will be applying for corporate finance for the first time. If you are unsure about the application process, it is important to seek help and support to ensure your business stands the best possible chance of successfully obtaining the necessary funding.”
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