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Thursday 20 September 2018

Soros Fund backs UK concierge for the wealthy after IPO

Ten Lifestyle Group quickly garnered attention from a range of big investors.

Ten Lifestyle Group floated on the London Stock Exchange earlier this year (Ten/PA)
Ten Lifestyle Group floated on the London Stock Exchange earlier this year (Ten/PA)

By Kalyeena Makortoff, Press Association City Reporter

The chief executive of Ten Lifestyle Group has said stakes by top-tier investors including Soros Fund Management prove that the concierge for the world’s wealthy offers a “colossal business opportunity”.

Ten – which organises exclusive travel, theatre, sports and restaurant bookings for high net worth clients and their families – floated in London last month and quickly garnered attention from a range of heavyweight investors.

Having raised £25.6 million ahead of the initial public offering (IPO), boss Alex Cheatle said he was “thrilled” to attract the likes of Old Mutual Asset Managers and Soros Fund Management – which took stakes of around 13.8% and 8.6% respectively – as well as Herald Investment Trust, Jupiter Asset Management, and Baillie Gifford.

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“These are long-term, high-quality investors and we are delighted with that,” Mr Cheatle told the Press Association, adding that it was partly due to the “scale” of their ambition.

“If we’re organising the retail, lifestyle and travel needs of millions and millions and millions of the world’s wealthiest people, that is a colossal business opportunity,” he said.

The company, which has grown to serve 35 countries out of 20 offices since 1998, is set to expand further in 2018, using funds raised through the IPO to open an office in Germany and is “evaluating” plans to expand its service to South Korea, Mr Cheatle confirmed.

Their services are usually offered as a perk to private banking clients from the likes of Coutts, Investec and Barclays, with wealthy individuals  – most of whom earn more than £100,000 per year – turning to Ten for services including reservations at exclusive restaurants.

“They absolutely love it that we can get them tables at restaurants they … the public, can’t get tables at. And the reason for that is that our average members spend 80% more than a normal person eating in that restaurant so that is a huge help for us in terms of negotiating special access.”

Ten – which offers membership from £130 per month – is currently pumping extra funds into existing and “early stage” locations in South East Asia and Latin America, as well as as the US, which is proving to be a “big, complicated market that deserves high levels of capital investment”.

Mr Cheatle said the biggest influences on the flow of wealth over the past 20 years have included disasters – with the world’s rich avoiding the Caribbean this autumn in the wake of devastating hurricanes – as well as exchange rate fluctuations, which have drawn Chinese clients to Tokyo rather than Hong Kong, for example.

But the company, which now has a market cap of around £112 million, is not expecting to see the political and economic effects of Brexit sway its client base, but is instead worried about the impact on employees.

“I’m mostly worried about the impact on my staff. It’s been brilliant for us to hire people from all over Europe into London and that’s becoming harder,” he said.

“It’s great for us that we run our Italian service from London, and we run our French service from London today. Is that going to be possible in 10 years’ time or five years’ time?”

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About 250 of Ten’s 700 multilingual global employees are based in London, with the office serving clients across Europe.

But with Brexit on the horizon and the expected end of free movement, Ten is likely to hedge its bets by setting up new offices in the EU, where it currently has offices in Switzerland and Belgium.

“ We just have to accelerate our plans to set up in the eurozone.”

As for London, Mr Cheatle said: “I think we’d carry on growing here but we might grow slower, and grow quicker elsewhere.”

Press Association

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