Corporate financiers Melanie Hird and Andrew Walls launch Fresh Thinking Capital

Bridging Finance

Corporate financiers Melanie Hird and Andrew Walls have launched a new short to medium term loan fund to provide capital to SMEs.

Fresh Thinking Capital, the new secured lending business which has offices in Leeds and London, already has funds of £30m on deposit for immediate secured lending to businesses.

Hird and Walls are said to have a strong track record of investing in and supporting SMEs over the past 10 years.

The firm will offer secured lending loans of between £100,000 and £2m to help small and medium sized businesses looking for finance quickly.

Hird said: “There is still a gap in the lending market to SMEs here and across the UK, and the first fund we have established has given us £30m to lend immediately to these businesses.

“We know that good businesses often have urgent lending needs and quite often an opportunity arises, such as winning a new contract or acquiring a business or asset, but the slow speed at which funding can traditionally be raised results in the opportunity being missed.

"The level of governance and red tape in place in financial institutions means it is impossible for many lenders to move quickly and this is hindering the growth of businesses.”

The duo has the backing of a private investor, and, so far, has secured deposits of £30m initially for five years with a view to deploying further funds.

She explained that the attraction of working with a like-minded investor was a perfect fit for the business and allows a flexible approach to be taken.

The firm is initially launching loans secured against assets, including property both inside and outside of the business, that can be signed off by Hird and Walls and drawn down to clients within five working days of the initial meeting.

Co-founder Walls says the company are already working with other lenders including banks, ABLs and equity funders to bridge gaps to ensure refinances and transactions complete.

He added: "We are encouraged following a number of discussions we have already had with banks and management teams who see the benefit of utilising short-term funding to be able to take advantage of opportunities which can be refinanced in a more normal timetable in due course.

“We have set up the business in order to streamline the lending process, and having the full fund on deposit, together with a completely flexible approach to structuring loans. We listen to the customer’s requirements and tailor the funding to suit rather than one size fits all.

“Even when deals don’t suit our secured debt offering, we work with our London office or introduce to our network of equity investors, asset based lenders or alternative funders. In most cases, we find a solution for the client.

Having been the founders of Seneca in Yorkshire, Hird and Walls will continue to work with the firm on potential equity requirements as well as introducing opportunities.

Hird added: “We have invested in laying the foundations for this business properly, with the right systems and processes to scale up to be a national network of offices very rapidly. Unlike many loan funds, we don’t have to keep ‘going back to the well’ and pitching to our backers for each deal as we have the full value of the fund on deposit to lend to deals that meet the criteria.

“As a result we have already seen interest from a number of financiers keen to get involved and establish our network of regional offices, and we fully anticipate significant growth this year and the opening of more offices.”

Fresh Thinking Capital’s Thorpe Park, Leeds, offices will be its headquarters and, together with the London office, provides a solid platform to start the business with plans to build a network of five offices nationally within two years.

Carl Eldridge is a journalist with more than 25 years’ experience working on local and then national newspapers, including a spell on the City Desk at the Daily Express, before switching from print media to the internet.

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