Saturday 22 September 2018

European technology 'crying out for capital' says VC boss

Simon Cook of Draper Esprit, which aims to raise €201m.
Simon Cook of Draper Esprit, which aims to raise €201m.
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Dublin and London listed Draper Esprit plans to raise £176m (€201m) to back technology ventures across Europe.

The bulk of the funds will be generated through a proposed share placing and subscription to raise gross proceeds of up to £115m at an issue price of 420p per new ordinary share.

While £61m has been raised by the company using the UK's enterprise investor scheme (EIS), venture capital trust (VCT) and secondary funds this year.

"This fundraise follows increased investor demand for exposure to Europe's high growth, privately owned technology companies," Simon Cook, CEO of Draper Esprit, said. Mr Cook said European tech startups are "crying out" for capital in order to scale up and become global technology giants.

"With this additional funding, we will be able to play our part in helping to bridge this gap thanks to our ability to invest, hold and grow our investments for far longer than our non-listed competitors can," Mr Cook said.

"We are now one of the most active venture capital investors in Europe, deploying over £100m a year to help build the companies that will shape our future."

The placing shares are being offered by way of an accelerated bookbuild launched immediately. The number of placing shares and subscription shares will be determined following the bookbuild. Numis and Goodbody are acting as joint brokers in connection with the bookbuild.

The news comes as the company yesterday announced profit after tax of £63.5m in the 12 months to 31 March, a 97pc increase year-on-year.

During the period the company's gross primary portfolio value has grown by 116pc to £243.5m.

The group invested £71.5m by plc and a further £24.8m by EIS/ VCT and managed funds in nine new and 11 existing portfolio companies, across four key sub-sectors of enterprise, digital health and wellness, hardware and consumer technology.

Net assets, including goodwill, increased by 107pc to £311.3m in the 12 month period, while the group's net asset value per share increased to 431p from 370p in 2017.

In the 12 months to 31 March the company announced further disposals including Clavis Insight, and it has now exited 10 of the original 24 portfolio companies, realising over £57m in cash.

Since March 31, Draper Esprit carried out a number of other investments including a £10m investment in cloud-based call centre software company Aircall, and a £11.5m investment in fintech company Revolut.

It also announced the sale of portfolio company Tails to Nestlé Purina Petcare.

Irish Independent

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