Financial services industry veteran Hugh Little is to lead a new north-east investment network as chairman.
It is Edinburgh-based venture capitalist Par Equity’s first regional investment network.
Mr Little, 63, will spearhead efforts to identify new investors for the business, as well as potential investment targets among early stage disruptive technology companies in Aberdeen and the surrounding area.
Announcing its expansion yesterday, Par Equity said Mr Little gave it “unparalleled” business and investment knowledge amassed over 28 years at Aberdeen Asset Management (AAM), where he built a successful private equity business before becoming head of acquisitions for 10 years.
He was also a director of Aberdeen Football Club for 12 years and has been a non-executive director of several private equity-backed companies in the region.
The former Robert Gordon’s College pupil, Aberdeen University economics graduate and Institute of Directors Scotland non-executive director of the year was on the board of Scottish Enterprise Grampian from 2001-2008.
He joined AAM – now part of Standard Life Aberdeen – in 1987 as only its ninth employee, having trained as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young in Glasow.
As well as his new role with Par Equity, he is chairman of north-east charity Clan Cancer Support and a visiting professor and governor at Robert Gordon University.
Par Equity’s expansion to the north-east is expected to add to more than 200 existing investors who have backed 60 companies to the tune of £80 million since the business was founded by serial angel investor Paul Atkinson in 2008.
Its new north-east network is supported by law firm Addleshaw Goddard and accountancy group Anderson Anderson & Brown which are intended to be the “eyes and ears” of the initiative, spotting early stage opportunities and undertaking due diligence on potential investments.
Par Equity already has a track record in Aberdeen that it hopes to expand on.
Earlier this year it completed a £1.6m investment round with subsea energy storage company EC-OG, helping to create up to 40 jobs and supporting future growth.
Following several rounds of investment over three years, the firm also facilitated the 2013 sale of Granite City company Star Net Geomatics to Utec, resulting in a successful exit for its investors.
Mr Atkinson said: “We see huge potential in the Aberdeen market for investors to be part of some of the UK’s most exciting innovative firms.”
The company is focused on investments in small, innovative businesses with high growth potential.
It expects to see a “proven substantive product or service that has clear global application”. Three-quarters of the firms it has invested in to date have appointed a member of its investment network to their boards.
Mr Atkinson added: “We are hands-on investors, providing experience and knowledge, as well as financial support.
“Following our success with EC-OG and Star Net, we are looking forward to discovering more opportunities among Aberdeen’s young companies.
“Hugh will be key to our success in the north-east and his unrivalled knowledge of the local business landscape as well as his breadth of contacts makes Aberdeen the ideal place to begin our regional network strategy.”
Mr Little said: “Despite what has happened this year, Aberdeen is an exciting place for business, with plenty of life in it.
“As the market continues to move from traditional oil and gas exploration and extraction and its accompanying supply chain, to innovative high- growth tech companies looking at carbon capture, renewables and zero emissions technology, the north-east presents a significant investment opportunity.
“There are a wealth of innovators circling the energy ecosystem and what they are working on now will dictate what the market looks like in the long term.
“Par Equity is keen to open up opportunities for those early stage companies by offering not only investment, but the right support and guidance to help them succeed.”