Entrepreneur and investor Bobby Hashemi targets region

ENTREPRENEUR turned private equity investor Bobby Hashemi is targeting the North West in his quest to find companies with high growth potential.

He spoke at a entrepreneurs dinner in Manchester this week organised by North West accountants Hurst, and held an initial meeting with one firm, which could lead to an investment.

The founder of Coffee Republic has spent the last three years working with renowned investor Luke Johnson at his private equity firm Risk Capital Partners, a niche, hands-on business.

He told TheBusinessDesk.com that despite having no plans to open an office in the North, that Risk Capital can offer something “quite unique” to entrepreneurs.

“We understand exactly all the issues entrepreneurs are facing, because we have been there ourselves. I believe we can add value to a business as a partner in a way other private equity houses cannot.”

“I’m very keen to expand our presence and network outside London and in the Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds area, and I’ll be spending much more time here.”

Mr Hashemi, who started his career as an investment banker, said Risk Capital was not targeting any specific sector, but is instead focused on backing high quality management teams in exciting businesses.

Risk Capital, which is well known in the North West for its successful investment in Bolton company Integrated Dental Holdings, typically invests between £3m and £15m.

Its current £75m fund includes £25m invested by the partners themselves, with the balance coming from institutions.

Mr Hashemi said: “We are small enough to be flexible and act quickly – we invest our own money, which again is a point of difference. We can turn around deals really quickly – we did one deal – DWS Bodyworks – in just three weeks earlier this year.

“Because we are entrepreneurs and investors we know the issues people face in business, and can be a trusted adviser for a CEO and are there to help them add value to their business.”

Nigel Barratt, corporate finance partner at Hurst Accountants in Manchester, who was introduced to Mr Hashemi via a mutual contact, is helping him build a network in the region.

He said: “The banks are more cautious than they were for obvious reasons. Private equity I think is going to be increasingly important for people who want to grow their business aggressively.

“It’s amazing how many businesses are still growing very quickly in very difficult times.”