30/03/2010

Chris Rowlands joins the Finance Wales board

Chris Rowlands, author and chairman of the UK Government’s ‘Rowlands Review’ into the availability of growth capital to small and medium-sized businesses, is to join the Board of Finance Wales.


His appointment comes as Finance Wales’ impact on Welsh small and medium-sized businesses tops more than half a billion pounds, having invested £150 million directly since 2001 and leveraged a further £350 million. Cardiff born Mr Rowlands, who was a director at 3i Investments plc before retiring last year as Managing Partner for Asia, joins Finance Wales as it expands into new UK markets and continues to invest its £150 million fund in Wales.

In November last year Mr Rowlands announced the Rowlands Growth Capital Review which concluded that a permanent gap exists for businesses looking for between £2m - £10m growth capital. The UK Government is now looking to launch a £500 million fund to fill the gap as announced in the recent budget.

Sian Lloyd Jones, Chief Executive at Finance Wales, said the appointment of Mr Rowlands as a non-executive director would bring significant experience to the Board at a critical time for Finance Wales. "We are very pleased to have Chris join us. He has a vast experience of the private equity market, both within the UK and globally, and in depth understanding of growth capital".

The appointment of Mr Rowlands comes after Finance Wales expanded its reach in Wales with the launch last year of a new £150 million fund utilising investment through the European Investment Bank and EU through the JEREMIE initiative – the first of its kind in Europe. The company’s subsidiary, FW Capital, was also appointed as a fund manager for a similar fund in the North East of England in January this year.

Mr Rowlands, who has moved back to Wales and is also a non-executive director of the Principality Building Society, said he was delighted to be joining the company. "Finance Wales is a dynamic, forward looking fund management company – one of the largest and most successful of its type in the UK – and I’m pleased to be joining such a team at a critical time for small and medium-sized businesses seeking investment," said Mr Rowlands.

Mr Rowlands, who was educated at Whitchurch High School, Cardiff, began his career with Barclays Bank in 1973. Since then he has risen through the management ranks at Arthur Andersen and 3i, retiring as Managing Partner – Asia at 3i last year.

Board chairman, Ian Johnson, welcomed Mr Rowlands. He said: "Chris will add to our already experienced and commercially focussed board as we now move the business forward."

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones welcomed Mr Rowlands: "Mr Rowlands has an impressive track record and I am delighted with this appointment. He is extremely experienced and his knowledge of the market is second to none. This appointment further strengthens the Finance Wales board as the company moves towards achieving the vision of creating a sustainable Welsh financial institution."

Finance Wales was established as a subsidiary company of the Welsh Assembly Government in 2001 to provide commercial investment for SMEs. To date it has invested over £150 million through more than 2,300 investments. It has also leveraged an additional £350 million in private-sector investment.