Review: Calculus VCT

Calculus Capital has invested in small unquoted companies since 1999, primarily through its EIS fund. The Calculus VCT launched in 2009 and co-invests in many of the same companies. 

In 2017 the Calculus VCT consolidated its three share classes and merged with Neptune Calculus VCT. Calculus VCT was until 2015 known as Investec Structured Products Calculus VCT plc.

This new share offer seeks to raise £5 million with an over-allotment facility of a further £5 million. 

Highlights

  • Aims to invest in growth-focused, mature unlisted businesses, in many cases co-investing alongside the long-standing Calculus EIS fund
  • 21 portfolio companies held in a wide range of sectors
  • Target dividend of 4.5% of NAV, from summer 2019 (variable and not guaranteed)
  • Strong and experienced management team
  • £5,000 minimum investment
  • Monthly regular savings option available

The manager

Calculus Capital was founded by John Glencross and Susan McDonald in 1996; both are still actively involved. They launched the UK’s first approved EIS fund in 1999 (it raised £1 million). Calculus now manages £147.2 million (as at 31 May 2017), predominantly in EIS funds with a smaller amount (c.£10 million) in this VCT.

Watch an exclusive video interview with Calculus CEO John Glencross:

Target return 

The VCT has a dividend target of 4.5% of net asset value per annum, variable and not guaranteed. Dividends from the new offer shares are not expected until 2019.

Strategy 

Calculus’s focus has always been on mature unlisted businesses. Calculus targets companies seeking development or scale-up capital that have:

  • A robust business model
  • A strong management team
  • Evidence of market opportunity
  • Capability, in the manager’s view, of achieving a target IRR of 20%

Most of the deals come to Calculus via corporate advisers or as the management of underlying companies come back for a second or third time.

Calculus aims to find and back capable management teams in established companies which are already successfully selling products and services. Sectors of interest include agri-tech, leisure, telecoms, transportation, healthcare and business services. As at August 2017 the VCT holds 21 companies in the portfolio. 

The VCT currently holds a large amount of cash. Three of the top four holdings of the enlarged portfolio are money market funds. As at 30 June 2017, 39.2% was held in Aberdeen Sterling Liquidity Fund, Goldman Sachs Sterling Liquidity Fund and Fidelity Sterling Liquidity Fund. 

Example of a portfolio company

Blu Wireless Technology (Calculus VCT)

Blu Wireless Technology

In July 2017 both the Calculus VCT and EIS invested £2.4 million in Blu Wireless Technology. Blu Wireless is a firm leading the way in bringing ultra-fast millimetre wave (mmWave) wireless technology into homes and businesses through the roll-out of Wi-Gig® and 5G networks. Blu Wireless has many of the world’s leading semiconductor and consumer electronics companies among its customers.

This investment by Calculus was part of a £6.6 million institutional and private investment round and follows the recent strategic investment round led by ARM, the UK semiconductor and software design company. The investment will enable Blu Wireless Technology to accelerate the design and development of its core wireless technologies. It will help the firm grow its software design and development team and recruit additional sales and marketing resource to help expand its client base.

Risks

The usual risks with unquoted companies exist with this offer.

Please remember capital is at risk. VCTs are high-risk investments and are not suitable for everyone. Investors should not invest money they cannot afford to lose. 

The value of tax relief depends on circumstances. Calculus Capital has an exclusive focus on EIS and VCT investments, both of which are subject to HMRC rules which can change frequently. This could leave the firm and its investee companies vulnerable if rules change unfavourably in future. 

The VCT holds a large proportion of cash currently which Calculus must invest within HMRC timescales to remain qualifying.

Venture capital schemes, including VCTs, are currently the subject of a Treasury consultation. This is designed to review the options for ensuring access to long-term investment for young, innovative firms. The proposals are expected to be announced in the Budget. This could have an effect on VCT investment policies and levels of tax reliefs available.

Fees

There is a 5% initial charge, before Wealth Club saving of 2.35%. There is an ‘early bird’ discount – applications received by 2 February 2018 qualify for a 0.5% saving on the initial charge. Existing shareholders also receive 0.5% additional discount on the initial charge.

There is an annual fee of 1.75% and the annual charges are capped at 3.0% – a reduction from previous years thanks to improved efficiencies from the merger of the share classes and the merger with Neptune. There is a performance incentive fee of 20% of the excess returned above 105 pence per share. VAT will be charged where applicable. 

Calculus VCT aims to offers a share buy-back facility. From 2020, it will aim to buy back shares at a share price of no more than 5% discount to the NAV, after a minimum 5 year holding period.

Summary

This VCT co-invests in many of the same deals as the well known Calculus EIS fund, allowing investors to access these portfolio companies at a much lower entry point (£5,000 minimum for the VCT compared to £50,000 minimum for the EIS). There is a strong and experienced team in place. The merger of the share classes and the Neptune fund should bring efficiencies and allow access to a larger, more diversified portfolio. However there is a significant amount of cash in the current portfolio. Additionally, please note any dividends on the new offer shares are not expected until summer 2019.

Read more about Calculus VCT »


Wealth Club aims to highlight investments we believe have merit, but you should form your own view. You should decide based on the provider's documents and ensure you have read and fully understand them before investing. This review is a marketing communication. It is not advice or a personal or research recommendation to buy the investment mentioned. It does not satisfy legal requirements promoting investment research independence and is thus not subject to prohibitions on dealing ahead of its dissemination. 

Calculus VCT

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