Correspondence between a former majority shareholder of Maydown Precision Engineering (MPE) and Invest NI shows the state-aid company held out on providing the firm with grant-funding as it had misgivings about the former’s financial standing.
In May, Annesley Harrison, Corporate Finance Manager at Invest Northern Ireland, wrote to Amin Amiri, an English-based Iranian venture capitalist who became a board member of MPE in 2014, outlining his concerns.
The correspondence released to this paper following a Freedom of Information request shows Mr Harrison was responding to a series of letters from Mr Amiri, in which he pleaded with Invest NI, for funding.
On May 6, for example, Mr Amiri wrote: “On my part I have done everything possible both financially and timewise to enhance MPE’s operational capabilities and profitability.
“Indeed in excess of [redacted] of my personal cash is invested, and unquestionably it was the only reason MPE is saved!”
He went on: “I am writing to again plead with you and express that it is crucial that an offer letter from Invest NI is received imminently.
“We MUST now pay deposits to secure a key part of the Capex [capital expenditure], by next week at the absolute latest.
“Failing this would almost certainly result in the loss of the [redacted] project with the consequence of almost immediate redundancies of these [15/20] extra people.
“We need INI’s cash injection for this.”
However, Mr Harrison demanded more rigour from Mr Amiri in terms of the Maydown firm’s business plans and accounts.
He wrote to Mr Amiri to explain how he could not go to the Invest NI Board asking it to approve a letter of offer without up-to-date information about the financial health or otherwise of the firm.
He wrote: “The Draft Business Plan is now very much out of date and the consolidated projections, which were prepared subsequently, are also out of date and are materially inaccurate in key areas, such as [redacted], ID availability, A2E financing, current sales and profitability etc.”
He suggested a revised Business Plan would “give a much clearer indication of how the company proposes to fund the business going forward which is something we will have to be content with before we release any funds.”
Mr Harrison also wanted more information on A2E’s accounts.
“I would certainly want to have this before going to our committee for approval because I am bound to be asked about the financial standing of A2E and I don’t want to say that I don’t know because they haven’t yet given me the details.”