Stone will advise new SME bank on hunt for investors

A NEW business bank specialising in lending to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is launching an international fundraising which aims to raise £100m in start-up funds.

Most of the bank’s management team are currently under contract elsewhere in the City but have already opened discussions with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to acquire a banking licence.

Subject to FSA approval the bank expects to launch by the second half of next year under the name British Enterprise Bank.

The bank is being advised by a number of entrepreneurs and financiers including the economist, professor Merlin Stone.

Stone said the bank was looking for a range of investors from £1m upwards.

Stone said: “We are obviously keen to find significant investment but we are not looking for people who are expecting a serious short term prospect.”

He added: “We believe the British Enterprise Bank will fill a gap in the market by providing good value for customers and offer a new source of much-needed funds to SMEs.”

It intends to open a network of more than 20 branches in business parks of regional cities around the country.

Branches will be staffed with business bank managers with the entire business model designed to serve SMEs that have been unable to access adequate funds from mainstream UK banks. The bank intends to focus on companies with at least 250 staff.