2013: a year of real recovery
Bill Nixon, Managing Partner
For the first time since the crisis which gripped world markets in 2008, I think we can genuinely reflect on 2013 as being the year when there was tangible evidence of a proper recovery across the UK business and financial sector. M&A activity increased, the market for IPOs opened up, property values outside London began to recover, banks started to lend again, and private equity activity levels surged.
Maven followed this trend of increased entrepreneurial activity by expanding its business during the year. In April, we acquired Fundamental Tracker Investment Management, which manages a single OEIC, now renamed the VT Maven Smart Dividend Fund. We also expanded our reach in the property sector, adding senior resource and completing 3 diverse transactions during the year, a BPRA qualifying hotel development, an office to Student Accommodation conversion, and the purchase of a residential portfolio, where we are implementing a strategy to upgrade and sell on the underlying units.
Our Mezzanine Loan Fund business also grew during 2013, with a new mandate for the Maven team in Manchester, where we have been tasked with delivering an important new initiative to provide debt solutions to qualifying SMEs in the Greater Manchester area. The Scottish Loan Fund also enjoyed another very successful year, consolidating the fund with the addition of seven new assets, committing a further £10m in capital to growth focused Scottish SME’s. Our mandate with Capital for Enterprise to provide mezzanine funding is now reaching its conclusion, with the majority of the assets having now been sold or refinanced. This 2009 project was well timed, with Maven supporting 17 companies in little over a year across the UK, providing much needed commercially priced capital to UK industry, helping to preserve or create several thousand UK jobs.
Our core focus remains in the private equity space. During the year our teams across the UK completed seven new transactions from Southampton to the North of Scotland, in a range of diverse industries and sectors. This was easily the most active year since Maven was established, symptomatic of an increase in confidence across the whole spectrum of business and finance. 2014 is forecast to begin with a flurry of new private equity investments, as a number of projects we have been working on hopefully come to fruition. The immediate future looks very bright.
From a macro perspective, the longer term outlook is also looking increasingly healthy for UK PLC. Economists for The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) no less, predicted this week that the UK will be the largest economy in Europe by 2028, leap-frogging both France and Germany, with a near 60% increase in GDP over that period to £2.6 trillion. Based on the level of entrepreneurial activity we are seeing in the SME space, I genuinely believe that level of growth to be achievable.
So we close the year in good shape, operating a business in a reasonably benign fiscal environment, insulated from the tribulations of the Euro, and poised to grow on the back of increasing investor confidence.
I wish everyone good health and prosperity in 2014 and beyond.