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The North West Fund for Energy and Environmental, managed by 350
Investment Partners, has announced the successful disposal of
PlaceFirst Ltd, marking a £3m return for The North West Fund. This
represents the largest cash exit of the fund to date.
Manchester-based PlaceFirst Ltd, which develops energy efficient
socially affordable housing, has agreed a substantial funding
commitment with ESO Capital, which will capitalise the company to
deliver 1,000 family homes for rent.
The new funding will allow PlaceFirst to accelerate the
development of its extensive project pipeline including the
development of Welsh Streets in Dingle, Liverpool.
PlaceFirst has used the investment from The North West Fund to
develop both its Woodnook project in Accrington, Lancashire
involving 64 socially affordable homes and its West End One project
in Morecombe, Lancashire involving 51 homes. PlaceFirst has
attracted £7.5m of additional investment and created 200 jobs
across these projects.
Jonathan Bryers, Partner at 350IP, said: "PlaceFirst has
developed and demonstrated an innovative model for bringing to the
market energy efficient social housing in the North of England.
Given the acute demand for affordable energy efficient rental
property, this is a timely and novel approach using investment
finance to deliver clear social, environmental and economic
David Smith Milne, CEO of PlaceFirst, said: "We would not have
been able to grow the business as we have in such a short space of
time without the excellent support of The North West Fund and
350IP. We now have the track record and material new funding to
deliver on our growth plan to create a portfolio of 1000 high
quality, energy efficient and affordable rental homes for families
that are caught in the gap between social housing and home
The North West Fund for Energy and Environmental is now fully
invested at £20.6m. Since 2009 it has been delivering on its
mandate to create a successful cluster of energy and environmental
SMEs in the sector.
It has also enabled private sector leverage of more than £28.8m,
with an aim of £40m by 2017. Altogether, it has supported 18
companies and delivered business advice support to 16
These companies have spanned energy efficiency and LED lighting
businesses, renewable generation installers, technology developers,
circular economy businesses, energy switching and engineering
Cliff Maylor, CEO of North West Business Finance, said: "This
exit represents a major landmark for The North West Fund and comes
as a result of the commitment, determination and expertise of our
team and business partners. The exit value of £3m is testament to
the work we have put in and our ability to add value to the
companies we work with."The North West Fund is provided jointly by
the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment