Calculus VCT

Calculus VCT is a generalist trust which looks to co-invest in growth capital opportunities alongside the longstanding Calculus EIS Fund. 

The VCT has a history that goes back to 2010 but took its current form in 2017. It has net assets of £38 million and a portfolio of 36 qualifying companies, a small proportion of which is AIM-quoted (August 2023). While the VCT considers investments from all sectors, its focus is on the technology, healthcare, and entertainment sectors. 

Over the five years to 31 December 2023, the VCT generated a NAV total return of 0.8%. This included paying out cumulative dividends of 15.63p, equivalent to 20.1% of starting net asset value. Past performance is not a guide to the future, dividends are variable and not guaranteed. 

  • Seeking to raise £10 million with a £10 million overallotment facility
  • Targets annual dividends of 4.5% of NAV – not guaranteed
  • Invest in the 2024/25 tax year
  • Minimum investment £5,000 – you can apply online 
  • Next deadline: 30 August 2024 for final allotment in 2024/25 tax year

Important: The information on this website is for experienced investors. It is not a 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: you could lose all the money you invest.

The manager

Calculus Capital was founded in 1999 by John Glencross and Susan McDonald, the current CEO and Chairman respectively. Calculus is an experienced EIS and VCT fund manager and a pioneer in the tax-efficient arena, having launched the UK’s first approved EIS fund in 1999/2000. Calculus now has £148 million of funds under management or advice (February 2024).

The investment team, which manages both the VCT and EIS fund, is co-led by Alexander Crawford and Richard Moore who are responsible for sourcing and executing new deals, as well as advising portfolio companies. They are supported by a wider team of six, including Dominic Harris, who acts as Head of Portfolio Management and life sciences specialist and Investment Director Elizabeth Klein.

Investment strategy 

The VCT has a history that goes back to 2010, with all the VCT's existing share classes merging in 2017 to form a single share class focused on growth capital investments. 

Calculus aims to back unlisted companies seeking development or scale-up capital that have:

  • Proven and competitive products or services with secure intellectual property
  • Strong management teams
  • Evidence of market opportunity
  • The ability to structure investments, where appropriate, to include loans and preference shares 

While the VCT follows a generalist strategy, its current areas of interest include technology, healthcare, and entertainment. Calculus believes these are the fastest-growing sectors in the UK. Healthcare and technology are expected to account for roughly 80% of new investments in any given year, evenly split, with the remainder allocated to entertainment. 

Most of the deals come to Calculus from its investor base and management teams it has backed in the past. Calculus believes its experience and longevity in the market enable access to high-quality deals from a variety of sources. Of the c.700 deals Calculus receives each year, the team expects 7-12 companies to make it through to the investment stage.

The Calculus due diligence process can take four to five months and is focused on the strengths of the management teams within each potential investee company. Calculus may send an executive coach to evaluate management teams.

Current portfolio overview

The Calculus VCT has net assets of £38 million across a portfolio of 36 companies: 31 private, five AIM-quoted and one company (Spectral AI Inc) quoted on Nasdaq. It holds £11.5 million in cash and three money market funds, accounting for 30.2% of net assets (August 2023). 

In the six months to August 2023, the VCT made four follow-on investments worth £2.1 million.

Asset allocation breakdown

Source: Calculus Capital, asset allocation by value, August 2023.

Examples of portfolio companies

Home-Team-Entertainment-2-Calculus-VCT.jpgHome Team Content – largest holding

Founded by award-winning film and television producers, Dominic Buchanan and Bennett McGhee, Home Team focuses on producing high-end inclusive television series and feature films. 

In November 2022, it was announced that Home Team had signed an exclusive deal with Universal International Studios (UIS) to produce premium TV projects for the UK and global market. The company currently has a number of projects in paid development with UIS, Netflix, and Film4, several are due to enter production this year. 

The VCT invested £648,000 in September 2020 and followed on with a further £138,000 a year later. This is now the VCT’s largest position, representing 4.6% of net assets (August 2023). Past performance is not a guide to the future.

WheelRight-2-Calculus-VCT.jpgWheelRight – recent investment

Based out of the University of Oxford’s Science Park, WheelRight has developed an automated drive-through safety service for vehicles. 

Fleet managers often rely on traditional weighbridges to check vehicle safety and monitor load distributions. However, this can be inefficient (as vehicles must come to a complete stop) as well as susceptible to environmental factors such as temperature and humidity. 

WheelRight’s technology performs the measurements in real-time as vehicles pass its sensors, reducing wait times and improving productivity. Its sensors also capture additional information, such as tyre pressure and uneven wear, helping operators catch problems early.

The technology is currently installed at strategic locations across the UK’s road network, serving HGVs and LCV fleets. The company has also collaborated with National Highways UK to develop a mobile station which has now tested more than 28,000 vehicles.

The VCT first invested £100,000 in November 2018 and has since provided several rounds of follow-on funding, most recently in September 2023. Its total investment now stands at £1.8 million. 

Exit track record

In the last 18 months the VCT recorded one exit, from legacy investment Park Street Shipping, returning 1.68x cost. Please note: the investment was completed in 2016 under a different investment strategy. Past performance is not a guide to the future.

Cloudtrade – Calculus EIS.jpgCloudTrade – example of previous exit

CloudTrade automates the production and processing of invoices, orders and freight and logistics documents. That helps to speed up order processing and reduces the chances of human error.

Since it was founded in 2010, the company has grown its client base to over 650 companies around the world, dealing with $20 billion worth of documents. CloudTrade’s patented technology is now used by a wide range of customers, from Aberdeen City Council to international giants like Vodafone and Qantas airlines.

Calculus first invested £2 million in the business in July 2018, through both its EIS fund and VCT. In October 2021 it was announced that the business had been acquired by Advanced, a leading provider of commercial software, resulting in a 4x return for VCT investors. Past performance is not a guide to future returns.

Arcis Biotechnology Holdings – example of previous failure

As is to be expected, not all investments work out. Arcis Biotechnology Holdings (Arcis) is one such example. 

Arcis developed an advanced DNA sampling technology to extract DNA and RNA from samples including human, animal, and plant tissues in under three minutes. The technology used a process designed to help to preserve inherently fragile genetic material such as RNA. Among early successes were a license agreement with multibillion dollar New York-listed company Teleflex Inc. to develop a quicker bedside test for sepsis.

The Calculus VCT originally acquired its investment in Arcis as a part of its merger with the Neptune Calculus Income & Growth VCT in September 2017. However, the manager was impressed by the technology and the VCT made several follow-on investments, most recently in March 2022, taking its total investment to £712,000. 

Arcis’s portfolio of technologies did not translate into material commercial opportunities for the business. In September 2022, the company entered into administration and the VCT’s holding was written down to nil.

Performance and dividends

Over the five years to 31 December 2023, the VCT has generated a NAV total return (including dividends) of 0.8%. 

That reflects several substantial write-downs in the 2019 and 2020 financial years offset by more positive results in recent years. Turbulence on AIM also had an impact, with AIM-quoted investment marked down by around £900,000 in the 12 months to February 2023. Over the five years to December 2023, the VCT paid out cumulative dividends of 15.63p, equivalent to 20.1% of the starting net asset value. Past performance is not a guide to the future and dividends are variable and not guaranteed. 

Note, we show VCT returns over a five-year period as a minimum, where possible. Where a VCT has followed the same investment strategy for longer, we also show returns over 10 years.

The VCT targets a regular annual dividend of 4.5% of NAV. Dividends are variable and not guaranteed. 

NAV and cumulative dividends per share (p)

Source: Morningstar. Past performance is no guide to the future. Share class first launched in 2016. Dividends are variable and not guaranteed. The bar chart shows net asset value and cumulative dividends per share for the period 31/12/2018 to 31/12/2023.

Dividends paid per calendar year

Source: Morningstar. Past performance is not a guide to the future. Dividends are not guaranteed. The graph shows the dividends paid per calendar year to 31/12/2023.

Dividend yield history (% of starting NAV)

Calendar year Dividend as % of NAV
2019 4.4%
2020 4.5%
2021 4.8%
2022 4.7%
2023 4.6%

Source: Morningstar. Dividend yields are based on the dividends paid over the period divided by the starting NAV of the VCT in each period. Past performance is no guide to the future.

Dividend reinvestment scheme

There is a dividend reinvestment scheme which allows shareholders to reinvest future cash dividend payments in new shares if desired. As these are new shares they should be eligible for tax relief (you will need to claim this on your tax return or directly with HMRC) and the shares will count towards the VCT annual subscription limit.

Share buyback policy

The board intends to buy back shares at up to a 5% discount to the prevailing net asset value. This is not guaranteed – please see the offer documents for details. 

Discount history

VCT shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange. Similar to investment trusts, the share price can fluctuate and can be different from the VCT’s net asset value (NAV), i.e. the value of the VCT’s underlying investments. The difference between the share price of a VCT, and its net asset value per share, is called a discount.

Based on data from Morningstar, the discount to NAV as at 31 December 2023 was -3.49%. Over the previous five years the average discount to NAV was -10.97%.

The discount history is based on the closing share price of the VCT at the end of each month, divided by the latest net asset value at the time. Past performance is not a guide to the future. Investors looking to sell their VCT shares may get a better price using the VCTs’ share buyback facilities, although this is not guaranteed.

Risks – important

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

VCTs 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. 

To retain the tax benefits, VCTs should be held for at least five years. If you sell VCT shares and reinvest in new shares of the same VCT (including any mergers) within six months, tax relief can be restricted. Tax rules can change and benefits depend on circumstances.

Charges and savings

A summary of the main charges and savings is shown below. The net initial charge shown includes the Wealth Club saving and any discounts. The investment may have additional charges and expenses: please see the provider documents, including the Key Information Document, for more details, offer price and share allotment calculation methodology.

Please note, capacity – for the offer or any early bird savings – can be reached early, and we may not be notified of this by the VCT in real time.

Full initial charge 5%
Early bird discount
Wealth Club initial saving 2%
Existing shareholder discount 0.5%
Net initial charge through Wealth Club (new investors) 3%
Net initial charge through Wealth Club (existing shareholders) 2.5%
Annual management charge 1.75%
Annual administration charge See documents
Performance fee 20%
Annual rebate from Wealth Club 0.10%

More detail on the charges

Annual rebate when you invest through Wealth Club

The Calculus VCT offer includes an annual rebate for Wealth Club investors, payable for the first three years. This is a rebate of our renewal commission and should be equivalent to a percentage (shown in the table) of the Net Asset Value of the Offer Shares issued to you when you invest. Terms and conditions apply.

Deadlines

  • Deadline for final allotment in 2024/25 tax year: 30 August 2024

Our view

Calculus Capital has been investing in smaller UK companies for over two decades. Its VCT and EIS funds co-invest under a similar mandate and this collaboration has helped the VCT build a well diversified portfolio of 36 companies, including a small proportion of AIM exposure. 

At present, the VCT is weighted towards technology, healthcare, and entertainment. The investment team is confident in the growth prospects of these sectors and recent hires are intended to help grow deal flow and expertise in these fields. 

The VCT has been able to maintain its annual dividend target. Since 2021, it has recorded six positive exits and started to show some signs of positive momentum, particularly in its media investments. However, some disappointing results in its early years continue to weigh on the VCT’s longer-term performance. Past performance is not a guide to the future, dividends are variable and not guaranteed. 

Wealth Club aims to make it easier for experienced investors to find information on – and apply for – investments. You should base your investment decision on the offer documents and ensure you have read and fully understand them before investing. The information on this webpage is a marketing communication. It is not advice or a personal or research recommendation to buy any of the investments mentioned, nor does it include any opinion as to the present or future value or price of these investments. 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
Generalist
Target dividend
4.5% of NAV
Initial charge
5%
Initial saving via Wealth Club
2% (2.5% existing investors)
Net initial charge
3% (2.5% existing investors)
Annual rebate
0.10%
Funds raised / sought
£5.4 million / £10.0 million
Deadline
30 Aug 2024 for 2024/25
Last updated: 19 March 2024

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