Calculus Creative Content EIS Fund

The Calculus Creative Content EIS fund has been launched in collaboration with the British Film Institute (BFI). The Calculus Creative Content EIS fund specialises in media investments, particularly within TV & film production. 

This is the first time the BFI has collaborated with the private sector to encourage fundraising into UK companies. Calculus was selected from a number of fund managers due to its experience as a growth investor as well as its strategic partnership with Stargrove Pictures – a sector specialist.   

The fund seeks to take advantage of the increasing global demand for creative content driven by the emergence of streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, which have created a more competitive environment for the acquisition of content. The UK already has an established and successful creative industry which exports its content worldwide. The fund aims to back a new generation of EIS-qualifying companies seeking to take advantage of this shift in demand for content.

The fund will invest in a diversified portfolio of production companies. Calculus will target companies that already have a slate of projects as well as a history of securing commissions. Investors can expect a portfolio of at least six investee companies, not guaranteed. 

Important: The information on this website is for experienced investors. It is not advice nor a research or personal recommendation to invest. If you’re unsure, please seek advice. Investments are for the long term. They are high risk and illiquid and can fall as well as rise in value, so you could get back less than you invest.

Read important documents and apply

Highlights

  • Focus on investments in the TV & Film production industries
  • Collaboration between Calculus and Stargrove Pictures
  • Launched in association with the BFI
  • Minimum portfolio size of six companies  with investments deployed within 15 months (not guaranteed)
  • Evergreen fund with quarterly closes in October, January, April, and June
  • Minimum investment £10,000 – you can apply online

The manager

In 2018, the BFI recommended an EIS fund should be established to boost private equity investment in UK screen industries. The BFI set about inviting fund managers to pitch for the role. Calculus Capital was appointed from a shortlist of six in December 2018, with Stargrove Pictures as a strategic adviser. 

Calculus Capital

Calculus is one of the most experienced EIS investors and the longest-standing EIS fund manager. Its managing partners, John Glencross and Susan McDonald, made their first EIS investment in 1996 and launched the UK’s first approved EIS fund in 1999. They have a 20-year track record of growth EIS investing.

Calculus has won the EIS Association Awards ‘Best EIS Fund Manager’ five times, and also won ‘Best EIS Fund Manager’ at the 2018 Growth Investor Awards: note past performance is not a guide to the future.

Stargrove Pictures

Whilst Calculus brings growth investing expertise, Stargrove Pictures contributes sector knowledge and industry connections. Stargrove has managed and advised on over £750 million of creative content EIS and VCT investments. The team behind Stargrove has been involved in providing funding for films such as Carol, The Maze Runner and Suffragette, and for TV productions such as Call the Midwife, Doc Martin, Teletubbies and The Fall.

As a strategic advisor to the fund, Stargrove will help identify and secure investment opportunities in partnership with Calculus.

The British Film Institute (BFI)

The BFI was founded in 1933 and is supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It is the UK’s lead organisation for film and television and uses Lottery funding to support film production, distribution, education and audience development.

The BFI is associated with the EIS fund and was responsible for selecting Calculus and Stargrove to manage it, but the BFI will not be involved in managing it nor have any financial interest in the fund. 

Watch a video interview with manager John Glencross of Calculus Capital:

Investment strategy

The popularity of streaming platforms has surged in recent years and, accordingly, so has the demand for creative content. In 2020, Netflix is expected to invest £17 billion on developing new and original productions. This trend is set to continue, with the industry ‘newcomer’, Disney Plus surpassing 50 million subscribers within the first five months of its service. As more and more media companies launch their own services, competition to secure the best content is fierce. 

The UK is already a global force in media industries due to its infrastructure and world-class talent. However, despite the rise in demand, there is a lack of funding for independent companies. By partnering with Calculus, the BFI is looking to stimulate private investment in the UK production industry.

Calculus is looking to invest growth capital in production companies and content creators to develop a slate of projects and IP. This is in contrast to previous EIS media offers which sought to finance specific projects: the latter style of investing no longer qualifies for EIS relief. 

Whilst Calculus has previously had little exposure to the media industry, it has been a growth capital investor for over two decades. This experience will be used to complement the industry knowledge of Stargrove Pictures, whose main role will be to source deal flow and ‘sense-check’ potential opportunities. The fund should benefit from Stargrove’s access to the industry, including its partnership with CAA Media Finance, a division of the renowned Creative Artists Agency (CAA) . With clients such as Keira Knightley, Daniel Craig and Hugh Grant, the CAA has access to some of the UK’s most influential talent. Its Media Finance division helps its clients transition from acting to production by establishing their own companies. Thanks to this partnership, Stargrove will have first look at these deals. 

In terms of investee companies, Calculus prioritises companies with established teams and a track record of securing commissions, attracting talent, and developing IP across different platforms. At the point of investment, the company should already have a number of projects at different levels of development. 

Investee companies will receive post-investment support from both Calculus and Stargrove. Calculus will broadly focus on business development and assessing KPIs to ensure the company remains financially sound. Whereas Stargrove will provide access to its industry network, helping companies to secure talent, distributors, and production partners. Stargrove will also be responsible for advising on project financing budgets as well as commercial negotiations. 

Target return

The fund is targeting a 2x return over a period of 4-7 years, not guaranteed.

Exit strategy

Calculus will look to exit once an investee company has established a successful track record. It is anticipated that exits will come through selling at a company level rather than the individual projects. Within the industry, the two main acquisition routes are through streaming platforms looking to acquire proprietary content and larger studios or production houses rolling up smaller, creative companies. Exit options and timeframes are not guaranteed.

Portfolio

Since launching in 2019, the fund has invested close to £2 million into three business. The minimum portfolio size is expected to be six companies, not guaranteed.  

Below are portfolio company examples from previous iterations of the EIS fund. They are outlined to give a flavour of the types of companies you might expect but are unlikely to be part of a new investor's portfolio. 

Wonderhood Studios – UK Creative Content EISWonderhood Studios

Founded by the former CEO of Channel 4, David Abraham, Wonderhood Studios is a hybrid production company, focusing on TV programmes and advertisements.

Having worked within the media industry for over 30 years, Mr Abraham offers considerable sector expertise. He began his career within creative agencies and eventually co-founded his own before moving into the broadcasting world. During this period, he ran the Discovery Channel (UK), TLC (a US cable network), and UKTV before becoming the CEO of Channel 4, a position he held for just under eight years. 

Now, Wonderhood will look to combine these two backgrounds, with a high-end content production team working alongside a creative advertisement studio. The company has established its own data analytics and insight division as well. These three activities should provide the company with multiple revenue streams which can be used to support each other.

The production studio will initially focus on factual content to gain momentum before expanding into the more expensive territory of scripted projects. Wonderhood has already seen success with several of its productions, including Eat the Years, a documentary featuring Heston Blumenthal and Trump In Tweets, a BBC Two special. Wonderhood has also secured several advertising campaigns with clients such as Comic Relief, Nike, and Starling Bank.    

Stargrove identified the company due to its talent, management, and the slate of commissions already in production. Calculus invested £850,000 to enable the studio to explore new genres and develop new productions 

Raindog Films – UK Creative Content EISRaindog Pictures

Raindog Pictures is a production company co-founded by Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth, and Ged Doherty, the former CEO of Sony Music UK. 

The company was founded in 2012 and has subsequently produced an award-winning slate of films. Its first release Eye In the Sky (starting Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman) was one of the top-earning independent films in 2016.  

The pair first met during a fair-trade mission in Ethiopia and toyed with the idea of launching a joint production company. Firth was convinced after discovering the story of Mildred and Richard Loving which provided the inspiration for their acclaimed film, Loving. Now, with several films under its belt, the company will begin to expand into TV drama, music, and document content. This transition should be bolstered by the addition of writer and producer Trish D. Chetty who will oversee small-screen content. 

Calculus invested £1.9 million into the company due to the strength of the core team and its production track record. In particular, thanks to its industry connections the team has the potential to attract the best actors, writers, and directors for its projects. 

Previous exits and failures

As the fund only launched in 2019, it has yet to have any exits or failures.

Performance

As the fund only launched in 2019, it has yet to establish a performance track record. 

Risks – important

This, like all investments available through Wealth Club, is only for experienced investors happy to make their own investment decisions without advice.

EIS investments are high-risk so should only form part of a balanced portfolio and you should not invest money you cannot afford to lose. They also tend to be illiquid and hard to sell and value. Before you invest, please carefully read the Risks and Commitments and the offer documents to ensure you fully understand the risks. 

Tax rules can change and benefits depend on circumstances.

This EIS fund invests in early-stage businesses which are more likely to fail than larger ones. So you should expect a number of failures in the portfolio, or even be prepared for all companies to fail.

Charges

A summary of the main charges is shown below. Some of these will be payable by the investor, whilst others by the investee companies. The investment may have additional charges and expenses: please see the provider documents, including the Key Information Document, for more details. Please note, existing Calculus investors will be eligible for a 1% initial saving.


Investor charges
Full initial charge 4%
Wealth Club initial saving
Loyalty discount for existing Calculus investors 1%
Net initial charge through Wealth Club (new investors) 4%
Net initial charge through Wealth Club (existing investors) 3%
Annual management charge
Administration charge
Performance fee 20%
Investee company charges
Initial charge 2%
Annual charges 2.15%
All fees and charges are stated exclusive of VAT, which may be applicable in some cases. Any fees and charges payable by the investee companies or the underlying businesses do not directly come out of your investment. However, they will effectively reduce the returns generated by investee companies and therefore impact your investment.

More detail on the charges

Timing of the offer

The fund anticipates taking up to 15 months to fully deploy investor capital following the closing dates. However, it may take longer.

The next allotment deadline for the fund is: 30 October 2020. 

Our view

Given the rise of global streaming platforms and the increasing demand for creative content, there appears to be a compelling opportunity for the UK’s creative industries. The Calculus Creative Content Fund seeks to take advantage of this opportunity and appears well placed to do so. Not only is there clear demand for growth capital but the fund is in an advantageous position thanks to its association with the BFI and Stargrove Pictures. Both parties should elevate the credibility of the fund while also offering privileged deal flow and sector expertise that would be difficult to match.  

The fund’s investment strategy, to target established companies with diversified revenues and multiple projects in development, may also appeal to investors. 

Combined, these factors should make for an interesting proposition, particularly given the small number of EIS funds specialising in media investments. 

Read important documents and apply

Wealth Club aims to make it easier for experienced investors to find information on – and apply for – tax-efficient investments. You should base your investment decision 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.

The details

Type
Fund
Sector
Media
Target return
2x
Funds raised / sought
-
Minimum investment
£10,000
Deadline
30 Oct 2020 for next tranche
Last updated: 7 August 2020

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