Big hitters appointed to British Business Bank advisory group

Press release 21 January 2013

The Government has appointed a group of respected banking, business and finance experts to advise on the direction and priorities of the business bank.

In particular, the group will look at how to best address the long term problems around the effective and efficient provision of finance to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

As announced in December, the advisory group will be chaired by Sir Peter Burt, the former Chief Executive of the Bank of Scotland, and will also comprise:

  • Lucy Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Alchemists, chair of the CBI’s SME Council and chair of Capital for Enterprise Limited
  • Brendan Barber, former General Secretary of the TUC
  • Caroline Green, Finance Director at Metalrax Group
  • Stephen Welton, Chief Executive of the Business Growth Fund plc
  • Baroness Patience Wheatcroft, non-executive director of Fiat SpA and of St James’s Place Plc, and advisory board member of Huawei Plc and Pelham Bell Pottinger.
The business bank’s advisory group, chaired by Sir Peter Burt, is a great example of the kind of modern leadership we are trying to encourage in British companies today. Half of the group are women and half of the group are directly involved in SME finance. The business bank is on schedule and the appointments today take it one step closer towards delivering more long-term funding for SMEs. The Government already has in place a range of measures to help small and medium sized businesses access lending in the short-term. But this new institution will fill a vacuum in medium to long term credit that many viable small businesses are struggling to raise to grow and create jobs. Vince Cable Business Secretary
The advisory group has a major task but we have been assured of support from all quarters. Over the past 25 or more years, no government has put enough weight behind attempts to finding a solution to the SME finance problem, but I hope that this time there will be the necessary concerted effort. We cannot create a business bank overnight, but BIS has sufficient powers and approvals to immediately start getting money into the SME sector and this will be a major focus at the same time as the task of advising on and laying the foundations of a long-term provider of support for the SME sector. Sir Peter Burt Chair of the business bank advisory board

Already £1 billion has been committed by the Government to the initiative. The impact and reach of this funding will be maximised by exploring joint investment opportunities with the private sector and the use of Government guarantees. Autumn Statement confirmed that that £300 million of the new funding will be made available over the next two years, through co-investment with the private sector, to stimulate the development of new sources of finance that will help diversify the business finance market. Further detail on how this funding will work will be made available will be provided at Budget 2013.

Existing Government business finance schemes will also be brought together so that they are managed as a single portfolio. Government-backed business advice services will also be brought closer together, harmonising their engagement with customers and co-ordinating them closely with finance interventions, to improve accessibility for SMEs.

Discussions will soon begin with the European Commission to ensure the proposals are in line with state aid rules

Notes to editors

  1. As set out in the Written Ministerial Statement of December 20, the business bank advisory group will provide advice on:
    • The activities and specific segments of the market on which different activities of the business bank should focus
    • The design of existing interventions and how they could best be improved
    • The detailed design of the new interventions, how to make them most effective, and how to attract private sector capital if desirable
    • How to ensure better joining-up of wider Government-funded business advice and support as well as enhanced awareness of and access by businesses to this support
    • The role of Government in such an organisation, and at what level
    • The overall implementation plan
    • The marketing plan for these activities
    • The key roles in terms of design and execution risk for the implementation phase.
  2. The group will consist of a chair and up to six members, and will include individuals with significant experience in large organisation and business management, corporate and SME finance, governance or risk management. All members will be experts in their field and serve in a personal capacity. The chair and members will be unpaid, and will provide their time on a voluntary basis. The group is expected to meet regularly commencing early 2013, although the chair may be asked to provide some views prior to that date. A schedule of meetings will be agreed with the group shortly.
  3. Keith Morgan has also been appointed as Head of Business Establishment and will aid the Government in setting up the business bank.
  4. Biographies of the group members:
    • Lucy Armstrong

      Lucy joined The Alchemists after an early career in private equity; corporate development and headhunting with 3i plc, Courtaulds Textiles and Tyzack. Her work involves matching up experienced and successful entrepreneurs with high growth mid-corporate businesses to accelerate their growth and success.

      Her experience ranges from funding start up and early stage manufacturing businesses in the North East through to mergers and disposals of international operations. She is a non-executive of a venture capital investment group and angel network; a national qualification body and Deputy Chair of Northumbria University. Lucy is Chair of the CBI’s SME Council.

      She recently participated in the Banking Taskforce and Future Shape of Business projects for the CBI and a similar BBC Governors’ review of European Union coverage.

      She is also a member of the Council of Liberty, the human rights organisation. She was educated at Oxford, holds an MBA and has recently completed a MSc in forensic psychology and criminology. Her spare time is frittered away with a trans-Atlantic think-tank, running a film festival and walking along Northumberland’s deserted beaches. She has recently learnt to dive and is seeking ways to combine this with her other hobbies, chainsawing and church bellringing.

    • Brendan Barber

      Having held the post since 2003, Brendan recently stepped down as General Secretary of the TUC, which represents 55 unions with a total membership of around 6.2 million working in all sectors of the economy.

      He was born in Southport and attended St Mary’s College in Crosby. After a gap year teaching with VSO in Ghana, he took a degree in social sciences at City University London, where he became President of the Student Union.

      After working for an industrial training board for a year he joined the TUC in 1975, becoming Head of the Press Department in 1979 and the Industrial Relations Department in 1987 before being appointed Deputy General Secretary in 1993. He has served on a number of public bodies, including the ACAS Council. He is currently a Non-Executive Director of the Court of the Bank of England.

    • Caroline Green

      Caroline was appointed to the Board of Metalrax Group as Finance Director in January 2012. She joined the Group as Director of Corporate Development in August 2008 with responsibility for non-core asset disposal to reduce gearing, growth initiatives, investor relations, group communications, the property portfolio and the Group’s future M&A strategy.

      Prior to Metalrax, Caroline had eight years’ private equity experience, initially at 3i PLC, and spent 10 years at Xerox in a variety of roles.

    • Stephen Welton

      Stephen is Chief Executive of the Business Growth Fund plc (“BGF”), a major new £2.5 billion investment company established in 2011 to provide long term capital, and support to small and medium sized entrepreneurial companies across the UK.

      He is responsible for overall strategy and day to day management of the company, and also chairs the Investment Committee.

      Stephen has over 20 years of experience in the private equity and growth capital industry. He joined BGF after 10 years with CCMP Capital (formerly JP Morgan Partners) a global private equity firm. Stephen was a Founder Partner and member of the Investment Committee. He has extensive experience as an investor working with many private companies, most recently as Chair of Edwards, the global engineering group headquartered in the UK.

      Before this, he was Chair and CEO of TV Travel Shop prior to its successful sale to a global media group. He also has 10 years of UK private equity and growth capital experience as Managing Director of Barclays Private Equity and at Henderson Ventures, which he co-founded. He started his career in banking, has a law degree from Durham University and is a qualified Barrister-at-Law.

    • Baroness Patience Wheatcroft

      Baroness Wheatcroft is a non-executive director of Fiat SpA and of St James’s Place Plc. She is an advisory board member of both Huawei Plc, the Chinese telecoms company, and Pelham Bell Pottinger, the public relations consultancy. She is also a trustee of the British Museum.

      Most of Patience’s career has been spent in journalism. Her first national newspaper role was on the city desk of the Daily Mail and after that she spent several years with the Sunday Times. With her husband, she launched the trade paper, Retail Week, which she edited for five years before returning to Fleet Street. She was Business and City Editor of The Times for nine years before taking up the Editorship of the Sunday Telegraph.

      Then she decided to see business from the other side, leaving journalism to join the boards of Barclays and the property company, Shaftesbury.

      In July 2009, she returned to journalism, as Editor in Chief of the Wall Street Journal Europe. She left that role at the beginning of 2011 to become a working Conservative peer.

      She is a visiting fellow at Oxford’s Centre for Corporate Reputation; a trustee of the Reuters Centre for the Study of Journalism at Oxford, and a member of the UK/India Round Table

  5. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

    • To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
    • To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
    • To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
    • To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

    Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

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