* Real estate expert joins Lockton
US insurance giant Lockton has appointed Chris Hitch after revealing an expansion of its services in Birmingham in advance of an office move.
Mr Hitch who has joined from JLT Specialty – formerly Jardine Lloyd Thomson – and he will head up the Midlands division of the firm’s Real Estate & Construction (REAC) team.
The move comes ahead of the firm’s relocation from Bank House to the 45 Church Street complex in early summer.
Mr Hitch said: “Our strength is in the services we can provide not only to property owners, investors, developers and contractors, but also a range of PI products for surveyors and other professionals involved in the real estate sector.
“Our intention is to build a significant REAC business across the Midlands using our connections in the East and West of the region.”
Lockton has further strengthened its REAC division with the appointment of David Smith as an adviser.
The latest announcement follows the arrival of Debbie Day as managing partner in the autumn of 2011. She joined from rival broker Marsh where she spent 11 years working in London and the Midlands.
* Angel heads to No.10
The man who heads up Coventry’s only business angel investor network has met the Prime Minister to discuss issues affecting the sector.
Tim Powell, who leads the Minerva Business Angels based at the University of Warwick Science Park, attended an event hosted by the Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street which set out the Government’s commitment to promote and assist small business growth.
The Prime Minister recognised the increasingly important role of business angels, such as Minerva, as a key source of finance. He also highlighted the positive impact angel investors’ skills and expertise can have on early stage companies.
Mr Powell said: “We were delighted to be invited and it was a fantastic opportunity for us to take part in a lively discussion and create direct links with the Government.
“Access to finance for SMEs remains a major issue and a lot of potential high growth companies need our support.
“But if we are to keep on investing we need more angels to join us here at Minerva.”
Quentin Compton-Bishop, chief executive of Warwick Ventures a subsidiary of The University of Warwick, also attended the meeting with Mr Powell.
He said: “We manage spin-outs from the university for whom business angels are a key source of investment. The importance of angel investors, and their skills, should not be underestimated and it was encouraging to hear the Prime Minister underlining this message.”
* £10m fund launched
Independent invoice finance provider Positive Cashflow Finance has launched a £10 million fund to support the growth ambitions of Birmingham’s business community.
The funding from Positive will be available to businesses with a turnover of between £100,000 and £10 million, and can be used to replace bank funding lines in order to support the working capital and cashflow of a business.
As many businesses continue to find it difficult to access finance from traditional bank sources, alternative sources of funding are increasingly being used. Invoice finance enables a business to secure funding against unpaid invoices.
Phil Chesham, sales and marketing director at Positive, said: “Small and medium-sized businesses are in desperate need of suitably-priced funding to provide financial stability, particularly as the banks remain nervous to lend and have one-eye on their capital ratios.
“By ring-fencing this fund, we have a great opportunity to make a real difference to Birmingham’s business community by helping its SMEs maintain steady cashflow. The funding can also be used to encourage entrepreneurs to pursue their growth ambitions and avoid standing still in a difficult market.”
* Trotter becomes managing partner
Independent private equity firm Key Capital Partners has appointed its first managing partner.
Owen Trotter, a co-founder of KCP, has been appointed managing partner as part of the firm’s strategic development plan. He will be assisted in the role by recently appointed non-executive chairman, Tom Lamb, the former UK managing director of Barclays Private Equity, and fellow founder partners Peter Armitage and Mike Fell.
Before setting up KCP in 2007, he held roles at Granville Baird – now Baird Capital Partners – and the Royal Bank of Canada in Toronto.
Mr Trotter will continue as head of KCP’s Birmingham office and retain his positions on the boards of portfolio companies Templine, Midland Industrial Glass and Dwell.
Tom Lamb, non-executive chairman, said: “Creating the managing partner position provides a clearer direction for the future development and management of KCP. Owen’s experience and track record make him the perfect candidate for the role.”
Mr Trotter added: “Key Capital Partners is positioned in a very attractive part of the market and as a result we are seeing many attractive opportunities. I am sure that we will continue to build on the strong position that we have established in the last five years.”
In 2011, KCP backed the secondary management buyout of leading UK glass processor, Midlands Industrial Glass, as well as the management buyout of the specialist plastics additives business , Wells plastics.
* IFA takeover completed
Wealth management firm Pool House Professional Advisers has acquired the business of IFA company Central Independent Financial Services in a deal which will see the firm take on its client base.
The undisclosed acquisition is the first of what the firm hopes will be more throughout 2012, as the regulatory and compliance changes that are central to the FSA’s Retail Distribution Review (RDR) come into force.
The RDR will form the FSA’s agenda of customer protection, so is potentially good news for consumers but will have huge impact on the financial services industry, affecting firms across the chain from product manufacturers such as insurers and asset managers to the distributors, such as banks, wealth managers and IFA’s.
David Burns, Pool House Professional Advisers co-director, said: “The acquisition of Central IFS has enabled the perfect solution to the continuation of high quality service to its clients, whilst being able to be FSA compliant post-RDR, as Pool House Professional Advisers has already embraced the compliance changes.
“Many advisers will be finding themselves in a situation where they will have to look at selling the business due to the changes RDR will bring.”
* Loan helps food firm expand
Supermarket supplier Perfection Foods has relocated to new premises in Walsall after securing funding from HSBC.
HSBC’s Midlands Commercial division provided a loan facility to enable the cake manufacturer to purchase and renovate the new site, dedicated to the export market, and has also provided asset finance to allow Perfection Foods to expand production capacity.
Perfection Foods was established in 2000 and supplies major supermarket chains, including Asda and Morrisons, as well as wholesalers such as Makro, Batleys and Bestways.
* Grant Thornton wins audit spot
Grant Thornton in the West Midlands has been selected by the Audit Commission to supply audit services to local authorities and the NHS in the region.
The five year contracts, awarded on the basis of audit quality and value, begin in September 2012.
A total of 300 professionals from the Audit Commission will transfer to Grant Thornton to join its existing team in delivering audit services for local authorities and the NHS across the UK.
In addition, Grant Thornton will be expanding its public sector graduate recruitment programme and recruiting IT and other public sector specialists to support its enlarged practice.