Pipeline of investment opportunity is building in Yorkshire, says senior figure at UK Finance

YORKSHIRE is building a pipeline of investment opportunities following a period when too much equity finance was focused in the South East, according to a senior figure at UK Finance, the trade association for the UK banking and financial services sector.

Stephen Pegge

Stephen Pegge, the managing director for Commercial Finance at UK Finance, also said the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) had been a success, with 64 lenders now offering the scheme.

Figures published by the Treasury show that the banking and finance industry has approved more than £22 billion in loans to 505,043 businesses so far through the three major Government-backed lending schemes.

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Mr Pegge told The Yorkshire Post: “There is no question the drive to level up the economy hasn’t gone away. Coming out of this, there are obviously challenges as well as significant opportunities. It requires a much broader spread of activity right across the UK,’’ he added.

“Equity finance has been too heavily focused on London and the South East. You have got to have proper robust eco systems of support including investors, advisers and innovative businesses.

“In Yorkshire. projects like the AMRC (the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) are helping to build a pipeline of opportunity.”

Mr Pegge said the lockdown was also making people start to question whether they need to travel for business.

He added: “There are very powerful clusters in Leeds and Sheffield around financial services which leads to a strong sense of solidarity. It helps the region’s ability to connect with the rest of the country.”

“The initial emergency and temporary support provided to businesses helped to provide reassurance.

“There have been changes to schemes following feedback from banks and customers.”

In the past week alone lenders have provided more than £7 billion to businesses through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), CBILS and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).

“Different parts of the economy are at different stages of recovery,’’ said Mr Pegge. “For example, pubs and hotels may only be able to re-open in a very limited way.

“Going forward there will inevitably be a need to think about not just debt but also equity and a readiness to deal with investors.

“We don’t want businesses to be stuck with overhang of debt. There has been investment activity with firms like BGF being very active. Often these investors have been making a second round of funding.

“There will be a new normal with a premium on digital, tech and health – as well as sustainability. Different parts of the world are at different stages. China has essentially re-opened. Motor manufacturers are looking to restart purchases. Consumers have retrenched.”

Mr Pegge has 35 years of experience in banking and finance, and has represented the UK on business finance at the European Banking Federation and the European Union Factoring and Commercial Finance Association.

He was previously at Lloyds Banking Group, where he led relationship teams and was responsible for risk management, marketing and international services. He also oversaw training and communications for commercial banking and commercial finance.

A total of £7.25 billion has been approved to 40,564 businesses through the CBIL scheme, according to figures released by the Treasury.

Stephen Jones, Chief Executive of UK Finance, said: “The banking and finance industry is committed to helping businesses get through these tough times, with over £22 billion of lending provided to almost half a million businesses through government-backed schemes so far and a further £18.8 billion drawn under bank arranged commercial paper facilities.”

“Banks stand ready to support businesses large and small.”

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