The chief executive of the publicly funded £185m venture capital vehicle for the North West has left the organisation with immediate effect.
In a brief statement issued on Friday morning, the board of the parent company North West Business Finance said Andy Leach, chief executive since early 2010, had departed and the process of replacing him had started.
The statement continued: "The board thanks Andy for his professionalism, his technical expertise and the commitment he has always demonstrated during his time with the company, and wishes him well for the future."
No official reason was given but the departure comes after criticism from the local monitoring committee for the European Regional Development Fund , which financed the North West Fund, about the frequency and volume of deals. The most senior regional representative on the ERDF monitoring committee is Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council. There is £100m of unspent cash in the current round of ERDF, 2007-13, which Bernstein and his team are keen to invest more quickly.
To date the North West Fund, launched in December 2010, has spent £29m investing in 100 businesses. Leach blamed the lack of involvement from banks to match public investments in small businesses.
Leach was called to a special meeting of the ERDF committee in June to present plans for improving the fund's performance.
He will now be replaced by John McGuire, director of North West Business Finance, who will act as interim CEO. McGuire was previously managing director and then chairman of corporate banking at Royal Bank of Scotland.
Leach has worked in the private equity market for 25 years, and was portfolio director of LDC in the North West part of the Lloyds Banking Group, before joining the North West Fund.