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Beechbrook Appoints New Managing Director to Help Spearhead UK SME Direct Lending

18 January 2024

Beechbrook Capital Richard Smart marketing photo
Beechbrook Capital, Managing Director – Richard Smart

Beechbrook Capital, a leading lower-mid-market debt manager in the UK and Europe, has appointed Richard Smart as Managing Director. Richard’s appointment is to drive the firm’s UK direct lending strategy and originate new SME investment opportunities working with the Beechbrook UK Investment team. This appointment continues to expand Beechbrook’s regional footprint into Leeds, in order to build on its existing track record in leading sponsorless lending to SMEs with EBITDA of up to £15m in the UK.

Richard joins from NatWest, where he spent 22 years, most recently as Head of UK Financing Solutions responsible for the regions and London. He led the origination, structuring and execution of event driven transactions for growth SME to FTSE 100 customers and leveraged finance (private equity). His responsibilities included over £4bn in debt deployment across c. 115 transactions per annum, alongside external Board Directorship of RBS Invoice Finance, managing the P&L of NatWest’s UK corporate ABL business.

In addition, Richard was a member of the NatWest UK Debt & Financing Solutions Management Team, Chair National investment committee, and a quorum member of the bank-wide Capital & Pricing approval committee. He led multiple business transformations leading geographically dispersed teams, while pioneering a culture led strategic approach. Prior to this he qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PwC.

Paul Shea, Managing Partner, said: “We have a long-established track record and commitment to providing debt financing to the UK lower mid-market and have closed 95+ transactions to date across the UK and Europe. Our success in sponsorless lending has been built around our commitment to this significant market opportunity and investing in a regional network that allows us to access local advisors to bring debt financing to all corners of the UK. We are delighted to welcome Richard to the team, who brings his regional and national experience and vision to our SME funds. This will accelerate our footprint, expand our support for borrowers and benefit our investors.”

Richard Smart, Managing Director, commented: “The success of the Beechbrook Capital brand and the future growth aspirations in UK SME direct lending, creates a huge opportunity.  I am excited to build on the three existing UK funds invested to date, and ultimately to make debt solutions available to a wider subset of companies, without the need for majority equity ownership.  Offering differentiated and tailored financing solutions that align with borrowers’ needs is essential to fill the gap left by bank retrenchment, and beyond that, to help drive economic growth in the UK.”

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