The Irish Government agreed to introduce additional measures to support companies that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 at a special Cabinet meeting on 2 May 2020.
These measures are additional to the measures we examined in our article on Financial Supports Available to Businesses Affected by COVID-19. One of the new measures is the further development of the existing Credit Guarantee Scheme, which we examined separately in our article on the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme. Another of these new measures, which is the subject of this ezine, is a €2 billion Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund within the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).
ISIF has made available a €2 billion Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund (PSRF) to support medium and large enterprises in Ireland that have been affected by COVID-19. The monies will be made available through a sub-portfolio within ISIF. The application process is now open for eligible businesses.
The PSRF will focus on investment in large and medium size enterprises which in this context means enterprises that employ over 250 people or that have a turnover in excess of €50 million. There is no ceiling on the size of business that can seek to avail of the PSRF. ISIF has stated that it might consider investing in businesses below those pre-defined levels on an exceptional basis. Exemptions such as these would be made in instance where the companies in question are viewed as being of substantial scale and of significant importance at national or regional level.
ISIF is seeking to invest in businesses that have been clearly impacted by COVID-19. Businesses must be able to demonstrate that their business was commercially viable prior to the pandemic and that it is possible for that business to have a viable long term future post crisis. A business does not have to align with ISIF’s existing Priority Themes of Regional Development, Housing, Indigenous Businesses, Climate Change and Brexit. In fact, businesses from all sectors that have been adversely impacted will be considered. Applications will be considered subject to the ISIF’s Responsible Investment Policies.
ISIF have also clarified that just because a business meets the eligibility criteria this does not mean that ISIF will invest. Commercial return is core to ISIF’s mandate.
ISIF’s approach to the investments
ISIF is looking to ensure that applicants maximise the quantum of additional capital that they can access from their existing shareholders, banks, new co-investors and European sources such as the European Investment Bank. This will minimise the amount of ISIF capital that may be needed by a particular business. Where existing shareholders have capital available, they will be expected to meaningfully participate alongside ISIF in any recapitalisation.
ISIF have stated that their preference, and expectation, is that they will invest in businesses under the PSRF along with a co-investment partner, as they typically have tended to in their past investments.
The PSRF has the flexibility to invest across the capital structure. It can invest in a range of instruments from equity to senior debt and hybrid instruments. This will allow the business to access the capital it needs in a manner that suits its own circumstances.
No upper limit
No upper limit has been placed on individual investments, nor has any minimum amount been specified. It is expected, based on preliminary feedback, that individual investments under the PSRF would be no less than €10 million as the investment would need to be a meaningful amount, given the scale of these businesses. ISIF have indicated that investment amounts between €10 million and €70 million are likely to be common, and that investments could potentially be higher than that amount.
While there is no specific timeframe for the application process, ISIF recognises that it needs to respond within the timeframe required by the specific business. It is therefore anticipated that many investments under the PSRF could be made within a short space of time, as the economy re-opens and businesses seek to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.
Businesses should provide as much information to ISIF in the first instance to accelerate the application process. ISIF have published a document on Initial Information Guidance to Commence Engagement of which businesses should be mindful.
A large number of financial supports previously made available to businesses affected by COVID-19 were only available to SMEs or Small Mid-Cap companies. Larger enterprises that require a larger amount of an investment into their businesses may be able to avail of the Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund, so this announcement and initiative is extremely welcome news for the Irish business community.
For more information, please contact a member of our Corporate team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.