Invest NI respond about their (lack of) relationship with Walsh Doherty and David Walsh

Following on from last night’s post, Invest NI have responded to questions that were raised about their relationship with Walsh Doherty and David Walsh.

Partially (or wholly) in response to David H. Kirk’s criticisms about Invest NI’s “strategy and intervention in Northern Ireland’s investment ecosystem” and the report he gave Invest NI – concerns which are not universally shared across the sector – a meeting of the Access To Capital Stakeholders Forum was scheduled by Invest NI for mid-October, and cancelled after the status of one of the participants was queried.

The summary headlines from Invest NI are:

Walsh Doherty were invited on the basis that they had stated that they had recently become active in the local Venture Capital market and had made several investments.

Invest NI is unaware of any recommendations having been made to companies to contact Walsh Doherty.

In a bit more detail …

Can you confirm why the forum was cancelled and whether the agenda intended for discussion that day has been revisited? After the forum’s cancellation, has any alternative action been taken on the back of David H. Kirk’s report and discussions with Invest NI’s chief executive?

Invest NI is currently implementing an Access to Capital strategy which includes recently announced equity and debt initiatives that will enable approximately 300 high growth potential Small and Medium sized businesses to access up to £100m of funding over the next six years. Ongoing engagement with relevant stakeholders is an important part of this strategy. A previously planned stakeholder forum in October 2011 was postponed as there were other pressing priorities which Invest NI needed to address and a rescheduled date has not as yet been identified.

Can Invest NI explain how David Walsh came to be a participant at the forum? Was it through Mr Walsh responding to an open invitation to attend? Had he participated – or been involved – with previous meetings of the forum? Was he recommended by someone within Invest NI, or by someone else invited to attend?

The invitee list for the Stakeholders Forum included members from a wide range of organisations which are representative of entrepreneurs and funders in Northern Ireland. Walsh Doherty were invited on the basis that they had stated that they had recently become active in the local Venture Capital market and had made several investments. When issues were raised regarding Mr Walsh’s credentials, the invitation to him to attend was withdrawn.

  • NISP Connect
  • HALO (NI)
  • David Kirk
  • Walsh Doherty*
  • E-Synergy
  • Crescent Capital
  • Clarendon Fund Managers
  • Loughshore
  • Enterprise Equity
  • Propel
  • HBAN
  • QUBIS
  • UU
  • Black Cube
  • Digital Circle
  • Enterprise NI
  • CBI
  • Chartered Accountants Ireland Ulster Society
  • FSB
  • Intertrade Ireland

*Invitation subsequently withdrawn

Can Invest NI characterise its current and past relationship with David Walsh and organisation he is associated with (eg, WDC/Walsh Doherty Capital or Cannesca/Cannes Corporate Advisory)? Has David Walsh and/or organisation he is associated with been invited to and/or attended events organised by Invest NI?

Other than being an original invitee to the October event, Invest NI does not, nor ever has had, any relationship with Walsh Doherty.

Have local companies ever been recommended by Invest NI to talk to David Walsh and/or organisations he is associated with about possible VC funding?

Invest NI is unaware of any recommendations having been made to companies to contact Walsh Doherty.

That should provide some reassurance to local firms.

However, overall this is a cautionary tale that companies need to be very sure about the credentials of potential investors. Shiny websites and even press releases quoted in trusted media outlets talking about investments do not always translate into good experiences and successful funding.

Also worth noting that the Walsh Doherty homepage has now removed its (unprofessional-looking) explanation that “statements made on the internet with regards to the conduct of the firm are strongly denied”, “a private agreement existed between connected parties on a personal basis” and “due to potential litigation we are not able to comment further”. The few pages that remained at Cannes Corporate Advisory’s UK website, including the contact pages have also been taken down today.

Update (Thursday 5)Belfast Telegraph picked up on this issue in this morning’s paper.

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  • edgeoftheunion

    “A previously planned stakeholder forum in October 2011 was postponed as there were other pressing priorities which Invest NI needed to address and a rescheduled date has not as yet been identified.”

    Ah that’s all right then.

    If you start a timeline from when a story surfaces on Slugger what is likely to happen next?

    Is NI Water a reliable comparison?

    At what point does the MSM drag its gaze away from Hunky Dorys and Rhianna to applaud and credit genuine investigative journalism?

    Which backbencher at the Assembly will be the new Louise Mensch?