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News & Views Lancaster restaurant to reopen

Nawab Balti House in Lancaster is reopening in what is curently a derelict Grade II listed building. The restaurant was originally opened by Khalid, Wajid and Abid Hussain in 1990, but closed down in 1998 and the building, a former marble works, fell into disrepair.

However the family retained owner- ship of the property and the Hussains

are now planning to restore and re- open the restaurant after the summer, following a major refurbishment. They have applied to Lancaster City Council for listed building consent to carry out the work and are promising a sympa- thetic restoration of the building, which was constructed in 1865 by Richard Fawcett, a local marble merchant.

Bangladesh economy gets record loan from Japan

The overseas aid arm of the Japanese government has given the green light to three record loans, totaling US $670 million, in support of Bangladesh’s growing economy. These represent the largest ever amounts loaned to the South Asian country and will l go to three large-scale projects designed to strategically develop Bangladesh’s capacity for growth, by extend- ing transport links within the coun- try, improving sanitation facilities, and support the country’s small and medium enterprises.

The loans are approved and admin- istered by the Japan International

Cooperation Agency (JICA), the arm of the Japanese government for interna- tional development.

Bangladesh, with a population of about 150 million living on a landmass less than 40% the size of Japan’s, reported a solid 6% annual growth rate last year, mainly owing to a robust textile and garments sector which is attract- ing an ever-growing number of foreign investors, including from Japan.

As a start, the Japanese funds will go to building one of the longest bridges in the world over the Padma River, linking the country’s capital, Dhaka, to the industrial centre of Chittagong,

and reducing travel time across the country from twelve to three hours. A second loan will increase the amount of households connected to the water grid in Khulna, the country’s third larg- est city, from 22% to 73%, including many of the country’s poorest inhab- itants. A third loan will be directed at the country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector, which is estimated to consist of 5.9 million businesses, employs 31 million people and representing 60% of the country’s manufacturing sector. The loan will facilitate access to credit and other banking facilities to SMEs across the country.

Direct investor loans offer alternative funding is believed to be the first ever online marketplace allow- ing investors to make secured loans directly to UK businesses. The ser- vice, which began trail operations in January 2011, has so far facilitated eight loans totalling over £1 million. The largest of these was £250,000 for a clothing company based in Cannock, Staffordshire.

Kevin Caley, ThinCat’s managing director says, “As bank lending has

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contracted, more companies are look- ing for alternative ways to raise the funds they need to grow. At the same time, investors are frustrated by the very low interest rates available on their savings and the volatility of the stock market.

ThinCats claims it can offer a solution to both these problems. “By bringing lenders and borrowers together and cutting out the bank, both sides get a better deal,” Mr Caley suggests.

24 July/August 2011

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