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BUSINESS EXPANSION SCHEME (EMPLOYMENT & INVESTMENT INCENTIVE)

Beauty is obviously in the eye of the beholder. The glass can be half full or half empty. Ditto the reaction to the reinvention of the Business Expansion Scheme (BES) into the Employment and Investment Incentive.

The Sunday Times’s Business Focus delivers an inconclusive assessment of the initiative announced in the “bloodbath budget”, under which companies can raise up to €10m – a rise of 400% on the current BES scheme. Its most interesting finding is that BES investments are no longer the preserve of high-rollers; many small investors are putting the minimum €5,000 into BES funds these days.

But if Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe was damned with faint praise in this piece, the new scheme seems to be a winner with the corporate investment firms – if it ever materialises.

Writing in The Sunday Tribune, Sinead Heaney – a director of BES management, a joint venture company owned by Davy and BDO, says companies and investors should welcome the new scheme, albeit with some caveats.

“As the option to borrow from the banks becomes less likely, increasingly companies are looking to BES as a funding option for growth,” she says. “In that context, increasing the amount that can be raised and easing restrictions on access to capital is a very positive move. “

But, as with anything else, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

“Unlike other budget initiatives this will not be put into force through the passing of the finance bill. Instead, it is subject to approval by the European Commission. Given significant delays in the past, we would hope to see a sense of urgency and recognition of the importance of timely approval of these changes. We would also hope that the certification changes will broaden the scope of applicants for BES funding, allowing more sectors to consider it in the current credit climate.”

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