The potential for growth capital investments to help North East companies achieve global success has been highlighted by the acquisition by a US technology giant of a successful communications firm with regional roots.
Callstream Group was created in 2010 when Newcastle-based Bluebell Telecom, which had previously received investments totalling £850,000 from regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers, acquired Callstream.
In 2008, Bluebell used an initial £650,000 investment from NEL as part of a £2m package that enabled the acquisition of two rival telecoms firms in Yorkshire and Scotland, and after fully integrating these firms into Bluebell’s operations, a planned, second £200,000 investment was then made to support the company’s development plans.
Callstream subsequently secured further investment from Octopus Apollo Venture Capital Trust (‘VCT’) plc, advised by Octopus Investments and British Smaller Companies VCT plc and British Smaller Companies VCT2 plc, both advised by YFM Private Equity Limited (YFM), and it has since grown both by acquisition and organically, expanding its range of services into new sectors and becoming one of the leading solutions providers into the UK’s contact centre marketplace.
Mick Crosthwaite, CEO of Callstream Group and one of the founding directors of Bluebell Telecom, says: “NEL’s investment offering was very well suited to the size and scale of what we were looking to do as Bluebell established itself in the business-to-business communications sector, and their faith in our business plans made a huge difference to both what we were able to achieve and the speed at which we were able to achieve it.”
NEL Fund Managers is currently responsible for investing the Finance For Business North East Growth Fund, a general investment fund aimed at businesses at a development and growth stage based anywhere in the North East, and has invested more than £25m in regional businesses over the last six years.
Yvonne Gale, chief executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “It’s very pleasing for us to have played a part in enabling a business founded in the North East to go on to great things, as well as to also achieve a very successful exit for our investments.
“Over more than 25 years of investing, our backing has helped many North East businesses go on to achieve national and international success, and it has often made the crucial difference in enabling these companies to expand their service offerings, create new North East jobs and contribute more to the regional economy.
“We remain very active in our continuing search for ambitious North East businesses with robust business development plans and strong management teams, and hope many more of our investees will go on to enjoy this degree of success.”
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or call on 0345 369 7007.