ProVen Legacy

ProVen Legacy is a new inheritance tax portfolio run by some of the team behind the top-performing ProVen VCTs. 

Investors in this service buy shares in an unquoted company, ProVen Legacy Plc, which makes secured loans to SMEs. Each loan will be backed by assets used in the borrower’s business, or the business will have predictable revenue streams. Provided the shares are held for at least two years and at the time of death, the value of the shares should benefit from 100% relief from Inheritance Tax, thanks to Business Property Relief. 

Highlights

  • New launch from a very experienced team
  • Choice of growth or income shares
  • Targeted minimum total return of 3% p.a. net of fees
  • Low minimum investment – just £10,000
  • For a limited time only – no initial charge (normally 5.5%) and no fee will be paid to the Lending Adviser until the portfolio has delivered a return of at least 3% each year 

Limited opportunity – the lowest-cost inheritance tax portfolio

The managers are seeing excellent lending opportunities, but need to raise funds quickly to be able to capitalise on them. 

They have approximately £500,000 invested so far. Once they get to £1 million, the fund should scale up very quickly. 

So ProVen needs investors willing to get in on the ground floor. If you are such an investor, you will pay no initial charge (normally 5.5%) and no fee will be paid to the Lending Adviser until the portfolio has delivered a return of at least 3% each year.

If the prospect of protecting your wealth from IHT and getting an exceptionally good deal appeals to you, please read the full review below and express an interest. There is no obligation. It simply means that if after reading all the information you decide to go ahead, ProVen will honour the preferential terms.

Video interview

The manager

ProVen Legacy’s “lending adviser” is Beringea LLP, a US and UK venture capital and private equity manager known predominantly in the UK for two VCTs: ProVen and ProVen Growth and Income (together the “ProVen VCTs”). Beringea manages assets of approximately £460 million, with £170 million managed by the London office. 

The core team at ProVen Legacy is led by Mark Taylor. Mark was a pioneer of venture and growth finance in Europe having been a founding partner of EVP (now Kreos Capital) in 1998. He went on to found and manage Noble Venture Finance and was instrumental in creating Clydesdale Growth Finance. Since joining Beringea he has been responsible for lending within the ProVen VCTs. He has 30 years’ lending experience and spent the last 17 years focusing on venture and growth finance. He has been directly responsible for providing more than £160 million in debt finance since 1998. 

Mark works closely with two of Beringea’s Investment Directors: Hilary Weatherstone, who previously worked at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, Barclays, and Ernst & Young; and Chris Bone, who co-founded Clydesdale Growth Finance. 

Together they will source and advise on the loans made by ProVen Legacy. 

Target return and strategy

Investors have the choice of growth or income shares. The performance target for both, which Mr Taylor considers very achievable, albeit not guaranteed, is 3% per annum after all expenses and operating expenses. When investing in growth shares the return is rolled up, whereas with the income shares it is paid out as a dividend.

ProVen Legacy has to be a trading business in order to qualify for Business Property Relief and therefore deliver the IHT relief. Its trade will be lending money primarily to asset-rich small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and occasionally larger companies. 

There will be two main sources for the deals. The first is the VCTs portfolios, which currently include 42 companies, all of which Beringea knows very well. Of these, four or five would make ideal candidates for the ProVen Legacy portfolio. Secondly, the team will rely on the extensive network of their personal and Beringea’s contacts. 

Two types of lending will be transacted: secured lending and leasing asset finance. 

Secured lending, as the name suggests, will be a loan secured against some form of asset within the business. These could be bricks and mortar assets or the loan could also take the form of a first charge over cash or stock. Typically, the term of the loan is expected to be two to five years and businesses sought will need strong asset cover or predictable cash generation characteristics. Beringea will review the whole balance sheet to see the level of assets. The company’s assets should normally have a value not just for that individual company, but also for other companies within the marketplace. This provides a potential secondary market should the borrower have any difficulties in repaying. ProVen does not intend to lend money into the buy-to-let market.

ProVen Legacy has already indicated terms for the first loan of this kind, lending £250,000 at a rate of 8.9% to a profitable company backed by Goldman Sachs and whose clients include Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse. The company is part of the VCT portfolio. The new loan is expected to have a 24-month term. The borrower will make monthly payments of £10,000 with a final payment of £35,000 on exit. ProVen Legacy will have security over stock and cash within the business. 

Leasing asset finance is a more complex area, which used to be dominated by banks. 

ProVen Legacy will lend to leasing businesses, for instance in the technology or office equipment sectors. Those businesses will use the loan to buy the assets (e.g. computers, telecoms equipment or photocopiers) they will lease to their end customers. ProVen Legacy acts as finance provider to the leasing business and has a charge over the underlying assets but the credit risk is assessed on the end borrower. The length of term is expected to be between two and five years with monthly or quarterly repayments.

Leasing asset finance is a lower-margin trade than secured lending, but it will help spread the credit risk.

The prime concerns with all lending are stability and security according to Mr Taylor.

Companies will normally have turnover of between £1 million and £50 million per annum, be able to provide evidence of demand for their products or services and have a strong management team with a proven track record of achievement.

Subject to the Board’s discretion and the availability of sufficient cash reserves, ProVen Legacy Plc will redeem shares at a discount of 1% to the Net Asset Value per share as at 30 June or 31 December (as applicable). There will also be a redemption charge of 1% of the Net Asset Value payable by investors. The Net Asset Value will be calculated monthly.

Performance

As this is a new launch, there is no existing track record. However, Mark Taylor has extensive experience in lending to companies similar to the ones expected to be lent to by ProVen Legacy.

He recently exited three companies to which the ProVen VCTs had made loans, generating an IRR of 11.5%, although past performance is not a guide to the future.

An example is Speciality European Pharma (SEP), which specialises in acquiring, licensing and distributing pharmaceutical products and medical devices within the urology and urogynaecology markets. 

In December 2014 the ProVen VCTs agreed a £4.7m four-year term loan to SEP. This loan enabled SEP to repay an earlier facility with Clydesdale Bank and fund its European growth. 

In June 2016 SEP was acquired by leading life science investor Juno Pharmaceuticals Inc. thereby enabling the early repayment of the loan and generating healthy returns for the ProVen VCTs.

An additional example is Linkdex, one of the world’s leading Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) platforms. It secured a loan of £2.5 million from the ProVen VCTs in November 2015 and was acquired by content marketing company Scribblelive in August 2016.

A third exit was at the end of August 2016 from Peerius, a provider of website personalisation software, which received a £1.2 million growth finance loan in April 2014.  

Risks

This is a long-term commitment and capital is at risk. With any unquoted investment a key risk is liquidity and not being able to dispose of your holding when desired. Shareholders will be able to request the redemption of all or part of their New Shares as of either 30 June or 31 December each year. 

The manager intends to keep a cash buffer and concentrate on shorter-term loans to start. The lending strategy will help mitigate the liquidity risk as many of the loans will be capital repayment loans with monthly or quarterly repayments. 

As this is a new launch and the portfolio is small, there is an initial risk in lack of diversification although ProVen Legacy can lend alongside other Beringea-managed investments. Additionally, once the portfolio reaches the £1 million mark, we understand it should scale up pretty quickly. 

Under current rules, BPR qualifying investments held for at least two years on death are exempt from IHT, but remember tax rules can change and tax benefits will depend on circumstances.  

Fees

There is normally an initial fee of 5.5%, before Wealth Club discount. In addition, Beringea receives 1.5% per annum of the Net Asset Value as a lending advisory fee. If the targeted minimum total annual return of 3% is not reached in a calendar year, the annual lending advisory fee is deferred until the targeted minimum total annual return has been reached (and past years caught up). Arrangement and monitoring fees may be paid to Beringea from underlying borrowers. Beringea also receives a 0.7% of the Net Asset Value as an annual administration fee. There will be a redemption charge of 1% plus a discount of 1% to the Net Asset Value on redemption. There is no performance fee. 

Please note: for a limited time only, ProVen is offering exceptionally good terms for Wealth Club investors. If you invest now, you’ll pay no initial charge (normally 5.5%) and no fee will be paid to the lending adviser until the portfolio has delivered a return of at least 3% each year.

Please complete the no-obligation form below to secure these terms.

Summary

Despite being a new entrant to the IHT market, ProVen Legacy is worthy of consideration. The target return is modest, yet the key individuals behind ProVen Legacy have extensive experience in managing these types of investment over many years. Our limited offer of no initial charge – a saving of 5.5% – makes this portfolio particularly appealing, especially as part of a wider IHT mitigation strategy. 

This review is not intended to be advice or a personal recommendation to buy the investment mentioned, nor is it a research recommendation. Wealth Club aims to highlight investments we believe have merit, but investors should form their own view on any proposed investment.

The details

Type
unquoted
Min. Investment
£10,000
ISA Available?
No

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