GROWTH capital provider BGF has ‘exciting’ deals in prospect in Scotland after more than doubling the amount invested in firms based in the country last year amid the challenges posed by the pandemic.

BGF said it invested close to £60m in the growth economy in Scotland last year through its investment in firms based in the country.

It backed businesses in sectors ranging from pet food production to oil services.

Patrick Graham, head of BGF’s Scotland operations, said the firm had underlined the value of the contribution it makes by increasing the support provided for “the brilliant businesses strengthening Scotland’s economy” in spite of the uncertainty triggered by the coronavirus crisis.

“This has proved all the more important when faced with the ongoing challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic,” noted Mr Graham.

He added: “We are continually focused on supporting the brightest and most innovative entrepreneurs that Scotland has to offer, and so for those businesses that are assessing their options in 2022, we are more than happy to have conversations to assess their options for expansion in the next 12 months.”

A spokesperson said BGF has some exciting deals in the pipeline, without disclosing details of any.

HeraldScotland: Patrick Graham, centre, with BGF Scotland team membersPatrick Graham, centre, with BGF Scotland team members

The big increase in the amount invested in Scotland by BGF last year provides a vote of confidence in the country, which has strength in sectors of the economy that are set to grow strongly. These include, technology, food and drink and energy.

The firms added to BGF’s portfolio included Glasgow-based information technology group Kick ICT, which won £8.7m backing. BGF invested £3.5m in Aberdeen-based oil services firm isol8, which has developed products that reduce emissions associated with the construction and decommissioning of wells.

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Firms operating in sectors which have evolved in response to the pandemic also won backing from BGF last year.

Fife-based natural pet food producer Bella & Duke and Odro, a Glasgow business that provides video interviewing and engagement software to the recruitment industry, won £5m and £5.2m backing respectively.

Lockdown restrictions encouraged many people to become pet owners and led recruiters to make more use of online interviews.

BGF noted that firms it supported recently ranged from early stage operations to businesses that were preparing for stock market flotations.

It invested £7m in Edinburgh-based whisky specialist Artisanal Spirits Company in support of an initial public offering completed by the firm ahead of the listing of its shares on the Aim market in June.

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The latest deal completed by BGF in Scotland was an £8m investment in Edinburgh-based Strathberry which specialises in luxury leather goods. BGF said Strathberry is primed for widespread growth both domestically and internationally.

BGF reckons it has made a difference by being prepared to take a longer view than is the norm in the private equity business. It takes minority stakes in the firms it backs.

HeraldScotland: STATS founder Pete DuguidSTATS founder Pete Duguid

Last month BGF realised its investment in the STATS pipeline business, which it first backed in 2012. STATS was acquired by SRJ Technologies in a deal worth around £73 million.

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Other investment businesses in Scotland have said they are in the market for deals.

Glasgow-based Nevis Capital said last week that it expects to add at least one new business to its investment portfolio this year.

Scottish companies are also preparing to float on stock markets in the greatest numbers seen for years amid strong investor interest in sectors such as technology.

BGF describes itself as the UK and Ireland’s most active investor. It said it had a record year in 2021, completing 67 new deals and investing £600m in total.

BGF was formed as the Business Growth Fund in 2010 with backing from six banking groups, including Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds.