Vic is a Clinical Psychologist by profession. Her 1st degree came from Newcastle, and she qualified as a Clinical Psychologist at Peninsular Medical School.
She is especially interested in the welfare of employees, direct and indirect, of the group and takes particular responsibility for our early-stage equity investment. Vic’s comments from our latest Annual Report are:
This year has again been truly trying for many of our early-stage investments.
Apertus Ltd depends for most of its income on clients’ electricity usage but has a purely industrial and commercial client base. This business has been totally disrupted by a total market failure following Brexit, a huge jump in gas prices, government regulation of retail prices and the consequent bankruptcy of many market participants who sold energy forward and could not meet their commitments. Apertus is less exposed to this than its competitors but one of its major suppliers became bankrupt with negative consequences for cash flow and profitability. We continue to provide support in the confident expectation that when normal market conditions resume Apertus will be in a strong competitive position. During 2022 the disruption continued and was made worse by a bad case of employee infidelity which cost the company all its expected profits.
Mykindacrowd has similarly been seeing lower demand due to Covid 19 but has recently successfully raised substantial sums which may be sufficient to take them through to profitability.
Hampden Underwriting has reduced income due to Lloyd’s losses in recent years but is now seeing a substantial recovery in profits.
The deal with Chrysalis has been 3 years in the making but has added several early-stage investments to our portfolio. These are Driver Require, who supply drivers to deliver for Ocado and others (https://driverrequire.co.uk/), Locale, who have a restaurant in London by Waterloo Station (https://www.localerestaurants.com/), Zappar, an augmented reality specialist (do not ask!) (https://www.zappar.com/ ), Green Star, who publish sports related magazines (https://www.greenstarmedia.net/ ) and Cambridge Mechatronics, who are into micro miniaturisation (https://www.cambridgemechatronics.com/en/). Our total investment is around £4m and was made at approximately 90% of the latest value in the Chrysalis accounts. We have no reason at this stage to doubt that those valuations were reasonable.
We are always looking at proposals where we can finance new and profitable companies. One major investment area is alternative energy where to date we have never been convinced by any of the projects shown to us but we are seriously considering solar generation of electricity in Norwich when we replace the roof on 18/20 Paddock Street and also still periodically consider the economics of adding PV panels to the Aardla centre in Estonia. Whilst awaiting investment opportunities we continue to make short term loans where we can do so at rates and taking risks which are acceptable to your Board. We retain ownership of 20% of Cambridge Network and 100% of Cambridge Index but to date with no financial benefit. Similarly, we continue to invest in the investment management systems previously used by NW Brown (“Maddox”) but have failed so far to convince anyone to use them in spite of the inadequacy of most recording and reporting systems used in the investment management industry. Unless we find a market soon we will probably review the future of both of these.
Dr Victoria Montgomery