ONE of the region's best known investors is backing a new challenger bank as part of its strategy of supporting growing North-East businesses.

Middleton Enterprises, the £50m investment company founded by businessman and philanthropist Jeremy Middleton, has selected Atom Bank for a six-figure deal based upon its potential to add value and growth to the region.

Atom is expected to launch in the North-East next year as the UK's only fully digital bank, offering an alternative to the traditional high street lenders.

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The Newcastle-based investment firm has a strong track record of supporting growth businesses. However, the Atom Bank deal is a variation upon the normal strategy of Middleton Enterprises, in that it is a rare investment into a start-up venture.

Mr Middleton said: “This investment in Atom Bank reflects my belief that we need more high quality national businesses in the North East. The efforts of organisations such as the North East LEP are helping to create an environment in which such businesses can thrive and Atom Bank is leading the way in recognising this and acting.

“Not only does Atom Bank fit the bill in this respect, I believe it can bring real growth to the region and add value to our economy, and I am proud to be getting behind Anthony Thomson and his team.”

Anthony Thomson, the chairman of Atom Bank, said: “Support and investment from organisations such as Middleton Enterprises and influential individuals such as Jeremy will help to get Atom Bank off to a great start. This is a very important endorsement for the bank, not only because of the finances involved, but because investors and business leaders in the region recognise that Middleton Enterprises support businesses they believe have great potential to improve the economy in the North-East.”