Bridges Ventures exits Whelan Refining – Third successful exit in nine months

London, 7 March 2013: Specialist fund manager Bridges Ventures (‘Bridges’) today announced that it has sold its stake in Whelan Refining Ltd (‘Whelan’) to the company’s management team.

Bridges led the investment in Whelan in 2006, alongside Catapult Venture Managers Ltd, to fund the refurbishment and re-commissioning of a redundant oil refinery in Stoke-on-Trent. The plant was re-engineered to the highest technical and environmental standards to become the first and only waste oil refining plant in the UK – recycling waste oil to produce base oil which is sold back to the lubricant industry.

The exit delivers a return representing a 33% IRR and 4.7x the total investment for Bridges Ventures’ Sustainable Growth Fund I. Launched in 2002, the Bridges Sustainable Growth funds provide growth capital to SMEs which create positive social and/or environmental impact as well as attractive returns to investors.

Since 2006 Whelan has helped to successfully divert over 100,000 tonnes of waste oil from use as a low grade fuel while producing net savings of over 300,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.  In addition to this positive environmental impact, the plant operates out of Stoke-on-Trent which is in the most deprived 8% of wards in England, fulfilling one of Bridges’ impact themes of investing in underserved areas to stimulate the local economy and create jobs.  Whelan has created 31 jobs as well as investing much on suppliers in the area.

This is the third successful exit for the Bridges Sustainable Growth Fund in the last nine months. In May last year, the fund secured the sale of the The Hoxton hotel, followed by the exit of Pure Washrooms a few weeks later.

Philip Newborough, Managing Partner at Bridges Ventures, said: “For the last seven years we’ve been working very closely with the management team to support the growth of the business and we are delighted with its achievements – showing once again that strong financial returns and positive social and environmental impacts can go hand-in-hand. We wish John Whelan and his team every success for the future.”

John Whelan, Managing Director of Whelan, said “Working with Bridges has been a stimulating experience which has allowed us to focus upon benefits to the community and the environment as well as financial success. I thank them for their support in establishing a valid and worthwhile business which has a strong future.”


Notes to Editors

About Bridges Ventures

Bridges Ventures LLP (“Bridges Ventures”) is a specialist fund manager dedicated to using an impact-driven investment approach to create superior returns for both investors and society at large. Bridges Ventures has raised six funds to date which total almost £300m: Sustainable Growth Funds I, II and III, the Bridges Sustainable Property Fund, CarePlaces Partnership and the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund.

The Bridges Sustainable Growth Funds (I, II, III) invest in growth businesses across the four impact themes of Underserved Areas, Education & Skills, Environment and Health & Well-being. The Funds typically invest up to £10m in ambitious, entrepreneurial businesses including early stage, growth capital and buyouts / buy-ins. Since 2002, these Funds have made equity investments totalling over £77m in 35 businesses.

About Catapult Venture Managers

Catapult Venture Managers Ltd is a leading venture capital fund manager with one of the largest investment teams in the Midlands.  Catapult’s highly experienced investment professionals have been specialising in the provision of growth equity capital to SME’s since 1999.  Catapult’s business is about forming long term relationships and we have been a trusted partner and supportive investor to more than 70 companies.