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Post Coal Post Steel Post Haste

The demise of the Welsh steel industry grabbed the headlines in January. But, in February, Aston Martin announced 75 jobs. Jason Sinclair looks at how Wales is redefining its industrial credentials.

When investors think M4 corridor commerce, it is more likely that the tech and communications giants headquartered along the Thames Valley stretch of the motorway are what spring to mind. But further west, the M4 takes in 75 miles of south Wales.

Some 20 miles shy of its end point in Llanelli, an elevated section of the motorway offers a vista of the heavy industry, and not only the (former) steelworks of Port Talbot. Before that, the journey takes in more subtle images of business, largely focused on enterprise zones, including those at the universities of Cardiff and Swansea. The native corporate finance community has grown to service this local business environment, and at its heart is a Welsh Assembly initiative – Finance Wales.

Established in 2001, Finance Wales is a subsidiary of the Welsh government. It manages six funds for business, and has more than £400m assets under management. It claims to have created, or safeguarded, almost 40,000 Welsh jobs. When it comes to the Welsh corporate finance community, Gareth Price, who manages a portfolio of equity investments at Finance Wales, says: “It is a relatively small market, in which many people know each other well. Given Finance Wales’s position in the market, we work pretty regularly with many firms.”

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