A NORTH-EAST fund management has started the new year by recording the single most valuable day of investments in its 23-year history.

The NEL Fund Managers team completed four investments from the Finance For Business North East Growth Fund that it manages on the same day, with a total value of £1.35m.

The deals included a £400,000 investment in the North-East’s largest independent contract cleaning and facilities management business, Sunderland-based Maxim Facilities Management, and a six-figure investment in business technology provider Activ that will help it double both its workforce and turnover within the next year.

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NEL has invested £15m from the Growth Fund since its launch in spring 2010, with an average investment value of around £200,000, and already has a strong pipeline of investment opportunities in place for the first quarter of 2014.

The Growth Fund is a general investment fund that is aimed at businesses at a development and growth stage that are based anywhere in the north east, and was set up with a view to creating 1,500 new jobs in the region, as well as helping to safeguard a further 1,300 jobs.

Last year, NEL was awarded a further £3m for the Fund by North East Finance, the holding fund manager with overall responsibility for the £125m Finance For Business North East initiative, and was also allowed to increase the amount it can invest in any given deal from £400,000 to £750,000.

Barrie Hensby, chief executive at NEL, said: "Completing four deals on the same day is a terrific achievement by our investment team and the professional advisors that were involved with each one, and shows just how much interest there is across the regional business community in the capital options we’re able to provide.

“The impact of our investment ceiling being raised was almost instantaneous, and while we knew just how much demand there had been for Growth Fund investments since 2010, even we were perhaps a little surprised by how much immediate interest it created.

“The rate of investment enquiries we’re receiving remains as high as ever, partly as a result of the difficulties many firms still face in accessing capital from traditional lenders, but also partly due to the attractiveness of this type of mezzanine funding in comparison to equity investments.

“Accessing capital from the Growth Fund allows company owners and management teams to implement strategies that they believe will enable their businesses to expand and thrive while also retaining full ownership of the company that they’re worked so hard to create and build up.

“More than two-thirds of The Growth Fund has now been invested, but we’re very much still looking to talk to even more firms with robust development plans in any part of the region about how we can help them realise their ambitions.”