Stuart Mansfield, Finance Partner at Arthur Cox, said:

“The latest SME Finance Update, detailing the level of financing for small and medium enterprises in Northern Ireland, provides encouraging reading.

“The number of new loans approved for SMEs in Northern Ireland during the final three months of 2017 showed a marginal decline on the same period in 2016, falling 2.6% to 2,232.

“However, the value of those loans was considerably higher than a year previously, amounting to £383m – 19.3% higher than the value in the corresponding quarter in 2016.

“The level compares favourably with other regions of the UK, with loan approvals for SMEs in Scotland and Wales reported as £464m and £281m respectively.

“Firms in the ‘Real Estate and Professional and Support Services’ sector, as defined in the report, accounted for the greatest proportion of loans approved locally, to the value of £112m, followed by ‘Agriculture, Hunting and Forestry’ which received loan approvals totalling £70m.

These figures reflect what our Finance Team is observing in the marketplace, as we work with leading firms across the economy and a range of lenders, providing advice on financing arrangements and corporate deals.”