COMPANIES: Amigo Loans to Zoopla

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on December 7, 2015, 9:00 am in News, Other

IMAGE: courtesy of Images Money



News about 5 UK growth companies and/or accelerators in the GRID marketplace, 29th November – 5th December 2015


Amigo Loans | Draper Esprit | Harvey Water Softeners | Emolument | Zoopla £107.6m.



AMIGO LOANS: Amigo pays out. Founder takes big divi from lender | Danny Fortson, Sunday Times. 29th November.

DZ profile: Amigo Loans Ltd

Business:  Amigo dominates the guarantor loans market, which allows borrowers with weak credit records to borrow money by nominating a friend or family-member who agrees to pay off the debt in the event of a default. The company lends at an average annual interest rate of around 50 per cent — more expensive than a credit card or other unsecured loan from mainstream lenders, but cheaper than short-term payday loans offered by companies such as Wonga.

Launched: 2003

Founder: James Benamor, 38, who has a £305m fortune according to The Sunday Times Rich List. Amigo controlled by his Richmond Group holding company. Benamor received a £1m dividend last year.

Financials: profits for the year to March increased by nearly 10% to £36m

News: Last year household non-mortgage debt increased by 9% — the fastest rate in a decade. The Financial Conduct Authority is expected to unveil stricter rules designed to cull the number of credit providers.

Sales jump 50% at lender Amigo but profits diluted by IPO costs | Nicholas Megaw, FT. August 31, 2018

1.  the recently-listed guarantor loans company reported a near-50 per cent jump in revenues in the first three months of the financial year, but an increase in provisions for bad loans and costs relating to its £1.3bn flotation weighed on profit growth.
Revenues for the three months to June 30 were £62.9m, a 47 per cent increase on the same period last year. However, profit before tax increased a more modest 15 per cent, to £17m. Profit growth was also slowed by costs of £3.9m directly related to the initial public offering, and a further £6m in interest on loan notes to shareholders. Amigo said the interest cost will not reoccur because the notes were converted to equity immediately before the IPO.
2. Glen Crawford, chief executive.



DRAPER ESPRIT: Tech fund eyes City float | Daniel Dunkley, Sunday Times. 

DZ profile: Draper Esprit Plc

Business: venture capital firm and investment fund which makes early-stage tech investments. Formerly known as DFJ Esprit. Has invested in LOVEFILM, the DVD delivery and online film service sold to Amazon in 2011; THE CLOUD, the wi-fi operator sold to BSkyB the same year; consumer reviews website TRUSTPILOT, GRAZE, the healthy snack delivery service; fashion website, LYST.

Launched: 2006.

Founders: Silicon Valley veteran Tim Draper; chief executive Simon Cook; 

Investment: A minority investment in the original Draper fund came from DFJ, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist that was an early investor in giants such as Twitter, Tumblr and Skype. DFJ founder Tim Draper in 2000 invested $7m for 28% of the Chinese search company Baidu. The company is now worth $60bn.


1. Draper Esprit has invested in GRAZE, the healthy snack delivery service 

2. Has hired broker NUMIS to lead a float on the junior AIM exchange. The listing could come as soon as next month and Draper’s management team is expected to raise between £120m and £150m, insiders said. Following the listing, the venture outfit, will use the cash to buy out investors from one of its venture capital funds, sources said. The listed firm will be a “permanent capital” vehicle, it added.

VC firm Draper Esprit's IPO at the height of Brexit has paid off with pre-tax profits of £26.5m | Lynsey Barber, City A.M.November 28, 2016 

3. Venture capital firm Draper Esprit defied the EU referendum jitters to float a week before polling day in June; now that appears to have paid off. It reported pre-tax profits of £26.5m for the six months to the end of September in its maiden interim results as a public company. The firm's portfolio value jumped 36 per cent since its IPO, or 27 per cent not counting new investments. Draper Esprit is dual-listed in London - AIM - and Dublin - Enterprise Securities market (ESM)
4. The firm bagged £39m from exits of three companies - MOVIDIUS, DATAHUG and QOSMOS. It also expects to realise a further £6m from the sale of Qosmos to ENEA, a deal announced in October. It also noted an uplift in the value of GRAZE, the healthy snack subscription service which is also stocked in supermarkets and is majority-owned by CARLYLE GROUP.
Meanwhile, it's invested £17m in the first six months, including new investments such as LIFESUM, GRAPHCORE, RESOLVER as well as follow-on cash to existing companies it backs.
5. "Our plc portfolio companies now have a combined turnover in excess of $710m, growing nearly 30 per cent on 2015," said chief executive Simon Cook.
Graze backer Draper Esprit boosts its portfolio value by 44 per cent | Lucy White, City A.M. 24 October 2017
6. Draper Esprit's gross primary portfolio value – or the value of all its investment holdings, before deductions – was up 44 per cent in the six months ending in September to £162.8m. The company raised additional capital of £100m, and had £92m on its balance sheet at the end of September. 
7. It has also been building its team, hiring former Eden Ventures managing partner Ben Tomkins.
So here’s the next big thing | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. February 24, 2019

8. Simon Cook, 49, chief executive,co-founded Draper Esprit in 2006 after a career at private equity firm 3i.The company’s shares have risen more than 50% since listing in 2016, prompting Cook and co-founder Stuart Chapman to each sell £2.4m-worth last year.

9. Draper Esprit has invested some £784m since it was founded. About 70% is tied up in the top 10.Investments include: 

  • the feted — but so far unprofitable — fintech firms REVOLUT and TRANSFERWISE, and in
  • The biggest bet is GRAPHCORE, the Bristol-based silicon  chip designer that last year attracted investments from BMW and Microsoft. Draper Esprit’s stake is worth £80m.

  • had a big shareholding in Irish chip processing business MOVIDIUS, which was sold to Intel three years ago for a reported €300m, netting Draper 7½ times its investment.
  • invested $4.3m in online furniture retailer ACHICA, which went into administration.
  • lost money through the cut-price sale of MOVIEPILOT two years ago.
  • Unilever bought the healthy snack brand GRAZE for £150m this month — much less than was expected.

10 …is listed on AIM with a capitalisation of £580m ...its cash comes from pension funds, retail investors and taxpayers. State-owned BRITISH BUSINESS BANK owns about 6%.
11. Other listed firms, such as ARIX BIOSCIENCE and IP GROUP, also invest in a portfolio of private companies — but at a mu



HARVEY WATER SOFTENERS: Osborne’s £3bn bill for companies. The apprenticeship levy adds to a growing burden of costs businesses face / Kathryn Cooper, Sunday Times. 

DZ profile: Harvey Water Softeners Limited

Founder: Harvey Bowden, 66 chairman

Location: Woking, Surrey

Staff: 123 people

News: faces a big increase in wage bill from April 2017 to pay for a £3bn-a-year levy to fund 3m new apprentices by 2020. Comes on top of higher pension costs from April last year and the national living wage, coming next April.  The levy will be set at 0.5% of a company’s wage bill, but employers receive a £15,000 allowance to set against the tax. This means firms with payrolls below £3m will pay nothing. The Treasury claimed only 2% of companies would be hit, but employers’ groups said firms with just 100 staff may have to pay the levy — far lower than the 250 threshold expected. The money from the levy will be ring-fenced to pay for apprenticeship vouchers, which companies put towards the cost of training. However, critics expect companies to “game” the system by simply rebranding their existing training programmes.



EMOLUMENT: London start-up Emolument plots to become the TripAdvisor of pay | Clare Hutchison, Evening Standard. 30 November.

DZ profile: Limited

Business: site crowdsources data on pay and helps users benchmark their salaries. The model is “give to get”: users register for free, enter their details including pay information and in return get a wealth of data about what other workers across multiple industries and multiple levels earn. In turn, the firm makes money through its human resources analytics platform and then sells data on to HR and recruitment businesses as well as data resellers, although users’ personal details are heavily encrypted. From a tight focus on the financial world the site has expanded to provide data for a raft of sectors, including law, recruitment and public services, as well data relevant for students looking for a first step on the career ladder. 110,000 users.

Launched: 2012

Location: London

Founders: 3 French entrepreneurs Olivier Beau de Lomenie (investment banker who started his career in Silicon Valley), Alice Leguay (ex-Morgan Stanley investment banker) and Thomas Drewry (Ocado).

Staff: 9 people

Financials: not yet profitable. Revenue-generating ideas remain second on the company’s, and its investors’, list of priorities, after user acquisition. “Businesses that are in high-growth industries like tech and data are more of an equity story. This is very much an equity story... we will be very valuable,” Drewry says, adding that growing its following will take time. “TripAdvisor is a good analogy,” chips in Beau de Lomenie.

Investment: who worked on a shoestring budget until landing a first investment through the Government’s Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme in 2013. Has raised £1.3 million in funding from 10 angel investors, including its historical backers.

News: The company plans to host advertising and create a paid-for premium account, allowing high-end customers to see unlimited reports and job ads to boost revenues. Are also planning business-to-business partnerships allowing companies to use Emolument data and are eyeing a subscription service for employers that would help them tailor their job offers.



ZOOPLA: profits rise despite launch of rival / Judith Evans, FT. 3rd December.

DZ profile: Zpg Plc

Business: online property portal

Founder: Alex Chesterman, chief executive

Financials: revenues up 34 per cent to £107.6m and operating profit up 23 per cent to £48.7m in the year to September 30.

Investment: FTSE 250, listed in 2014


1. The launch of a rival website -, backed by big estate agency brands such as Knight Frank and Savills - in January cost Zoopla 22 per cent of the estate agency branches that it worked with a year ago, bringing the total down to 12,702.

2. Slowdown in UK residential property transactions, with available stock at its lowest levels since the 1970s, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.


Zoopla injects £1m into four property technology start-ups | Kasmira Jefford, City A.M. 16 February 2016.

3. The FTSE 250 firm, which owns USWITCH, PRIME LOCATION …has agreed exclusive partnerships with four "promising and innovative property technology start-up companies" to help ramp up their expansion and improve the experience across its own platform: LANDBAY, a peer-to-peer lender; TRUSSLE, an online mortgage adviser; FIXFLO, an online platform, which helps agents manage tenant maintenance issues and repairs; PROPERTYDETECTIVE, a website which provides homebuyers with facts on their neighbourhood such as crime rates, schools and whether the property sits under a flight path.
Zoopla group revenues jump by a fifth after acquisitions | Aime Williams, FT. November 29, 2017 
4. Revenues generated by ZPG were up 24 per cent to £244.5m over the year to September 30, although acquisition costs meant profits rose less sharply. Pre-tax profits were up 4 per cent to £48.1m over the period. ZPG owns a suite of price comparison websites, including MONEY.CO.UK — which lets users compare financial services products such as loans, mortgages and credit cards — and USWITCH, which can be used to compare gas, power and broadband prices. Revenues made on ZPG’s price comparison websites were up 10 per cent to £122.2m over the year, while in the property division they rose 41 per cent from last year to £122.3m.

5. This month the group tried to add insurance price comparison website GOCOMPARE to its flock with a £460m bid for ownership, but Gocompare rejected the offer.
6. Zoopla and its larger listed rival RIGHTMOVE are among the UK’s most popular property hunting websites but have faced additional competition from ONTHEMARKET, a rival set up by a consortium of estate agents aiming to break the duo’s stranglehold on an area now crucial to home sales in the UK.
7. ...announced the acquisition of CALCASA, a property market data company based in the Netherlands, for €30m. The company adds to ZPG’s existing property data service, HOMETRACK, which it acquired in January for £120m.