Bridges Ventures launches the Bridges Sustainable Property Fund

13th November 2009

Bridges Ventures today announces the first closing of its new Sustainable Property Fund with initial equity commitments of £26m.  With the use of gearing, this gives the Fund an immediate investment capacity of over £50m. The Fund builds upon Bridges Ventures’ experience of investing in businesses in regeneration areas and sustainable business sectors.  It aims […]

Bridges Ventures today announces the first closing of its new Sustainable Property Fund with initial equity commitments of £26m.  With the use of gearing, this gives the Fund an immediate investment capacity of over £50m.

The Fund builds upon Bridges Ventures’ experience of investing in businesses in regeneration areas and sustainable business sectors.  It aims to deliver to investors an unusual combination of highly attractive financial returns and social and environmental benefits. The Fund will invest in a range of value-added asset management and tenant-led developments such as:

– Acquiring older buildings and renovating them to meet higher environmental standards. – Undertaking development of new space that shows environmental leadership, typically for specific tenants and owner occupiers who seek accommodation which meets high environmental standards. – Investing in regeneration areas where Bridges Ventures has access to a pipeline of opportunities and a strong understanding of the needs of occupiers operating in these locations.

Transactions will be undertaken either directly or in joint ventures with experienced partners. A number of potential transactions are already under consideration across the healthcare, waste to energy and affordable housing sectors.

The Fund builds on the Bridges Ventures team’s existing skills and track record of profitably investing in successful property based businesses. These include boutique hotel The Hoxton – which was recently awarded Best UK Hotel at The Guardian & Observer Travel Awards, The Office – which provides managed office space in inner-city areas, and The Gym – which offers quality gym facilities at affordable prices across five locations in the UK, with many more in the pipeline. Having backed these companies, Bridges Ventures is well placed to benefit from a pipeline of off market opportunities below the radar of major property groups.

The Fund’s first close was achieved largely with the support of  investors that have backed previous Bridges Ventures funds, including the West Midland Pension Fund, Co-operative Financial Services, the R&S Cohen Foundation and SHINE as well as private investors such as Sir Harry Solomon and Vernon Ellis. New backers include Merseyside Pension Fund. Bridges Ventures is currently in discussions with several potential further investors and the Sustainable Property Fund is expected to grow substantially over the coming twelve months and beyond.

Simon Ringer, Managing Director, Sustainable Property Fund at Bridges Ventures, commented:

“The financial backing that we have received from a wide range of investors at this first closing demonstrates that there is demand from an increasing range of investors who seek to support property projects that generate positive environmental and regeneration impact, without compromising financial returns. Our fund gives these parties access to a diversified deal flow of profitable opportunities in a market sector which is likely to grow exponentially as more investors recognise the inevitable impact of environmental changes and corporate social responsibility across the property sector, and the effect on their investment returns.”

Michele Giddens, Executive Director of Bridges Ventures, added:

“We are very pleased that against such a challenging economic backdrop we have been able to achieve the first close of the Bridges Sustainable Property Fund thanks to the continued support of our investors. We are excited about the potential for this fund to combine highly attractive financial returns for investors with important social and environmental impacts.  It is estimated by the Carbon Trust that 40-50% of all UK CO2 emissions are produced by the built environment, so the importance of greening the property market is huge.  We have also seen from our own experience the impacts that revitalising buildings can make in regenerating low income areas and creating liveable neighbourhoods.”


Media: Please contact HB Communication on +44 (0)20 7637 2780 or email on: Tom Hampson-Bellon    /   Antonia Coad

Notes to Editors:

The Bridges Sustainable Property Fund is managed by Simon Ringer, Managing Director, Sustainable Property Fund, with the assistance of an investment committee comprising John Harrison, co-founder of MWB Group Plc, John Duggan, formally CEO at Gazeley Limited, and Philip Newborough, Michele Giddens and Rory Maw of Bridges Ventures. Simon has worked in the property industry for over 20 years with a focus on fund management whilst at PRICOA Property Investment Management (now Rockspring), and as a Director of Charterhouse Bank (now HSBC) having created and managed its property fund management business and a variety of funds and joint ventures whilst at  Jones Lang LaSalle Corporate Finance.

Bridges Ventures is an investment company established in 2002 as a fund manager with a social mission whose commercial expertise is used to achieve social or environmental aims as well as attractive returns for investors. Within its existing venture capital funds, Bridges Ventures has already invested in a number of highly successful property-backed businesses in regeneration locations and sustainable buildings.

Three funds have been raised to date: Venture Funds I & II and the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund.

Venture Fund I totaled £40m while Venture Fund II totaled £75m, beating its original target of £50m by 50%, and was closed in 2007. Investors in the second fund include HSBC, Co-operative Financial Services, Barclays Business Banking, Lloyds TSB, and Citigroup, individuals including Tom Singh of 3i, Dr Mike Lynch of Autonomy Corporation, Harvey McGrath of Man Group and Lloyd Dorfman of Travelex, as well as pension funds and endowments including the Universities Superannuation Scheme, the West Midlands Pension Fund and All Souls College.

The Venture Funds invest in businesses based in regeneration areas and in sustainable business sectors such as the environment, education and healthcare. Bridges Ventures typically invests up to £10m at a time in ambitious, entrepreneurial businesses including early stage, development capital and management buy-outs. So far, £52m has been invested in 30 companies, many of whose employees have come out of long-term unemployment. To date there have been five successful exits: Harlands in Hull, SimplySwitch in South London, HS Atec in Yorkshire, EB2 in South London and IDL in Bournemouth.

Bridges Ventures’ key backers include Sir Ronald Cohen, co-founder and former chairman of Apax Partners, 3i and Doughty Hanson.

In August 2009 the Bridges Ventures Charitable Trust launched the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund which provides an innovative financing solution that is tailored to the needs of ambitious social enterprises. The fund has so far raised £8.5m from The Office of the Third Sector, NESTA, Sir Ronald Cohen, Nigel Doughty, Harvey McGrath, Apax Foundation, The Generation Foundation, Lehman Foundation, Deutsche Bank and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The Bridges Ventures team have also allocated funds from their profit share. The fund invests in the form of equity-like capital, which shares in the risks but also the returns of social enterprises.  Investments are coupled with hands-on advice and support to help the social enterprises realise their potential.

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