ProVen VCT plc and ProVen Growth and Income VCT plc, managed by Beringea, are to launch a combined Offer for Subscription to raise up to a total of GBP60 million with an over-allotment facility of up to a further GBP20 million. The target launch date for the Offer is December this year.
The GBP80 million total would represent a record VCT fundraise for Beringea, a transatlantic venture capital investor that manages over USD700 million in funds in the UK and the US and over 60 portfolio companies across North America and Europe. This would also rank among the UK’s largest ever VCT fundraises.
Beringea has sold its stakes in Watchfinder and Chargemaster in 2018, returning significant funds to the ProVen VCTs and enabling a substantial special dividend payment to shareholders. The two deals highlight the investor’s track record of creating lasting success for its portfolio of entrepreneurial companies.
This fundraise will provide further capital to the ProVen VCTs as they seek to build on this success and harness a substantial pipeline of investment opportunities developed by the specialist investing team at Beringea.
Watchfinder, the leading platform for pre-owned premium watches, was acquired in June by Richemont, the Swiss luxury group. Beringea, which has a substantial track-record of building retail brands and technology companies, invested in Watchfinder in 2014 to support its ambition to create a global platform for pre-owned luxury watches. The business trebled its turnover between 2015 and 2018 and scaled to become the UK’s fourth largest watch retailer before the sale to Richemont.
Chargemaster, the operator of the UK’s largest network of electric vehicle charging points, was sold to BP, the global energy company, for a reported GBP130m. Over the course of Beringea’s investment, Chargemaster significantly expanded POLAR, its network of public charging points, from 3,000 units in 2014 to 6,500 today.
The two sales have returned close to GBP40m to the ProVen VCTs, allowing special interim dividends to be declared for the year ending 28 February 2019. Based on these special interim dividends alone, the dividend yields for the year ending 28 February 2019 will be well ahead of the target 5 per cent dividend yield.
This success follows on from the significant dividends paid for the year ended 28 February 2018 of 9.5p for ProVen VCT and 12.25p for ProVen Growth and Income VCT, representing dividend yields of 8.9 per cent and 14.8 per cent for ProVen VCT and ProVen Growth and Income VCT respectively.
Beringea has a strong pipeline of investment opportunities for the ProVen VCTs, developed through the depth and breadth of expertise in its team of investors. This has seen the firm tap into the rise of innovative industries, such as artificial intelligence and software-as-a-service, and the strengths of key British entrepreneurial sectors, such as retail, the creative industries and digital media.
Over the past year, Beringea has made a number of landmark investments in these sectors. In October, it invested alongside Balderton Capital and H&M’s investment arm in a USD22 million raise by Thread, a rapidly emerging retail brand that harnesses artificial intelligence to provide personal shopping services for men.
Earlier in the year, Beringea led investments in Aistemos, a pioneering artificial intelligence company focused on patent analytics, and MYCS, a leading European furniture retailer, while it also invested in MPB.com, a leading and fast-growing platform for photographic equipment.
For almost two decades, Beringea has provided patient capital to scaling companies through the ProVen VCTs. These evergreen funds have supported founders throughout their entrepreneurial journey and enabled the rise of a number of lasting successes, including Monica Vinader, a leading British jewellery brand, and Mergermarket, the influential financial media platform.
The UK government has continued to demonstrate substantial support for VCTs as a critical source of patient capital, which is viewed as vital to enabling the growth and success of the British digital economy. The recent Patient Capital Review noted the success of VCTs in fostering the UK’s thriving start-up ecosystem and led to a relaxation of the investment limits imposed on these funds.