The UK banking industry has launched a £2.5bn Business Growth Fund this week and has identified the PR industry as a key partner in its drive to help grow small businesses.
The fund, launched on Thursday in Birmingham, has been dubbed a 'modern day 3i' and is supported by five of the UK's biggest banks.
It has taken on two agencies to support its launch and comms. Specialist private equity comms shop Equity Dynamics has been asked to support media relations and key messaging, while corporate comms agency Bladonmore will support branding and its website.
The fund has also identified the wider comms industry as a key partner, along with other advisers such as acc-ountants, lawyers and corporate brokers, in reaching small businesses across the country and finding the right businesses for investment.
Robin Banerji of Banerji Associates, interim head of comms for the fund, said: 'There is a real chance for PR professionals to work with us to identify and work with companies that need long-term funding. Comms professionals will play a key role in passing on what we can bring to their clients and associates through their networks.'
The fund plans to invest between £2m and £10m into businesses with a turnover of between £10m to £100m, taking an equity stake of between ten and 50 per cent.
It intends to support PR for companies it has invested in, targeting national and regional media to tell the growth stories of the firms.
It is understood the growth fund is building an in-house team and is seeking a head of comms, engaging Watson Helsby to lead the search.
The fund was established to support small business growth after discussions between banks and politicians.
The venture is supported by Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS and Standard Chartered, but Santander dropped out earlier this month. A key plank of the fund's comms will be countering Santander's suggestion that the fund no longer has a unique proposition.
Banerji said: 'It is a different model from other private equity investors. We want to invest for five to seven years rather than three to five, we are looking to take minority equity stakes rather than buy out firms, restructure them and sell them on, and we are funding off our own balance sheet.'