Northern Ireland

Invest NI fund manager E-Synergy quits after dispute

Invest NI headquarters
Image caption Invest NI launched a High Court legal action against E-Synergy in 2015 but the case has now been withdrawn

A company which has been managing investment funds on behalf of Invest NI has resigned from its position by "mutual consent".

E-Synergy managed the Northern Ireland Spin Out (NISPO) initiatives, investing in start-up and early stage businesses.

Invest NI launched a High Court legal action against E-Synergy in 2015, but the case has now been withdrawn.

E-Synergy has been paid almost £2.6m in management fees since the contract started in 2009.

A further £145,000 remains to be paid.

The NISPO initiatives were established in 2009, backed by £9m of Invest NI funds for equity investment.

'Failed to perform'

The bulk of the money, £7m, was for the Invest Growth Fund and £1m each for the Ulster Investment Fund and the Queen's University, Belfast (QUB) Investment Fund.

London-based E-Synergy was appointed to act as fund manager and invested the money in about 30 businesses.

At the time it launched the legal action, Invest NI alleged that E-Synergy had failed to perform its obligations under a limited partnership agreement.

E-Synergy, in company documents, accused Invest NI of being "a defaulting investor".

Invest NI has now written to NISPO portfolio companies advising them that, as well as resigning, E-Synergy has also agreed not to pursue any outstanding "management or monitoring fees".

The monitoring of the investments will now be carried out by Invest NI's in-house corporate finance team.

The NISPO funds have had a mixed performance: one of the portfolio firms, Path XL, was sold to the multinational health technology company, Philips.

However other firms in the portfolio are no longer trading.

Invest NI said the most recent valuation for NISPO, as of September 2016, was £5.4m

Invest NI launched a new suite of investment funds in 2014 - E-Synergy is not involved with them.

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