MAVEN Capital Partners has enjoyed its strongest year for private equity deals since it was launched in 2009 in the teeth of the Great Recession, and attracted about £60 million of new funds since the start of 2013.

Bill Nixon, managing partner, revealed that Glasgow-based Maven's funds under management had climbed to £320m. They stood at about £140m in summer 2009, when he formed Maven by leading a management buy-out of the private equity operations of Aberdeen Asset Management.

Staff numbers at Maven have risen to more than 40, from 22 at launch.

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Mr Nixon said Maven, which operates from offices in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester and London, had completed seven private equity deals across the UK in 2013. This is the largest number of new transactions completed by Maven in any year since it was founded. Several companies in and around Aberdeen attracted private equity backing from Maven last year.

Mr Nixon was bullish about the prospects for 2014.

He also highlighted Maven's appetite for continued expansion. It plans further diversification into the property sector, while retaining private equity as the core of its business.

Mr Nixon said Maven had, since the start of 2013, attracted about £23m of new funds into its six venture capital trusts. It also brought in £18m of new money last year from wealthy individuals and families, through their co-investment with Maven in deals, he revealed. The fund inflow total since the start of 2013 also includes the mandate to manage the £20m Greater Manchester Loan Fund, won last year.

Maven also acquired Fundamental Tracker Investment Management last year, and has since increased this operation's funds from about £3m to £5m.

Highlighting Maven's ability to gauge the general fortunes of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout the UK, Mr Nixon noted a pick-up in merger and acquisition activity and in stock market flotations.

He said: "I think one thing we

are able to do, because we have such a presence across the UK, (is) observe what is happening with UK SME Plc.

"I think 2013 was the first year of real recovery since the great financial crisis. M&A activity increased. The market for IPOs (initial public offerings) picked up. Banks started lending again, and transaction volumes increased."

Looking ahead, Mr Nixon added: "The prospects for 2014 look equally as bright at the moment, with a strong pipeline of new transactions, new loan and private equity transactions, due to complete in Q1 2014."

Private equity deals by Maven last year included its investment of £5m for a majority equity stake in Aberdeenshire-based R&M Engineering, which provides engineering and fabrication services to the North Sea oil & gas industry.

Maven invested further in Glasgow-based Glacier Energy Services to back the acquisition of Aberdeen-based Ross Offshore. The private equity house also provided further funding to Aberdeen-based Fletcher Shipping.

Maven manages the £113m Scottish Loan Fund, set up by the Scottish Government to provide finance for growth and export-orientated companies struggling to secure bank debt.

Andrew Craig, who manages the Scottish Loan Fund, said it had completed seven transactions in 2013.

Since it opened to applications in early 2011, the Scottish Loan Fund has done 15 transactions, with £26.5m of finance provided and a further £11m committed to companies. Mr Craig cited his hope of completing a further two Scottish Loan Fund transactions in the current quarter.

In property, Maven last year bought Claremont House, in the Park area of Glasgow, and is converting the empty office block into student accommodation.