Global Gene Corp | Excelsior Technologies | Voxsmart | Oodle | Terra Firma £24.6m | pureLiFi | XL Displays £4.2m | SNK Studios £4.5m | FreePostCodeLottery.Com | Jaeger | Market Porter £2m | TPO £3.6m | Toople £1m
News about 13 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace 5th – 11th February 2017:
GLOBAL GENE CORP (GGC): Slumdog tech boss backs gene start-up | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. February 5
DZ profile: Global Gene Corp Limited
Business: genetics company addressing the ethnic bias of genetic research to “democratise the future of healthcare”.
Location: carries out its research and development in Cambridge and has bases in Singapore, Boston and Mumbai.
Founder: co-founded by Sumit Jamuar, a former executive at Lloyds Bank.
Investment: After the funding round, GGC will be valued at about $37m (£29.6m). Other investors in the consortium include Nandu Nandkishore, formerly EVP Asia, Oceania and Africa, Nestle & CEO Nestle Nutrition.
1. Ambarish Mitra, a tech entrepreneur who set up BLIPPAR, an app that recognises objects and calls up online information about them, is understood to be heading a consortium that has invested several million dollars in GGC.
The investment will allow it to expand its DNA database, which is focused on “unexplored populations from Asia and Africa”.
2. Since the human genome was sequenced in 2003, research has centred on decoding the DNA of Caucasians. Drugs have been developed based on genetic data, leading to huge advances in disease treatments. However, some diseases affect ethnic groups in different ways. For example, colon cancer is more prevalent in young people in India than in America. Just 0.2% of available genomic data comes from India, although it has 20% of the world’s population. Scientists say the discrepancy means treatments can be less effective for billions of non-Caucasians.
EXCELSIOR TECHNOLOGIES: England footballer prints a fortune | Daniel Dunkley, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Mondi Consumer Goods Packaging Uk Ltd
Business: printing and packaging business. Makes packaging for food suppliers including Birds Eye and Haribo.
Location: Lancashire and has a base in Deeside, north Wales
Founder: Danny Mills
Staff: roughly 230 people
Investment: 2015: ENACT, a private equity firm backed by the 39-year-old former Leeds United and England defender Danny Mills, invested £2.5m alongside Growth Capital Partners
News: Enact is set to make a ninefold return on investment from the £30m sale of a Lancashire printing business to FTSE 100 giant MONDI. The deal is expected to value Excelsior at more than £30m, including its debts, according to insiders.
VOXSMART: Tech firm taps into Citysnooping | The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Voxsmart Limited
Business: telecommunications software provider and technology firm that helps banks keeps tabs on phone calls and messages made by their traders. Develops software that sits within a mobile phone and records calls and instant messages. Has more than three dozen clients.
Location: provider headquartered in London, UK with offices in both Singapore and New York.
Founder: Jeroen Fransen
Staff: expects to double headcount to 40 by the end of the year.
Investment: February 2017 - has closed its series A funding round of $7 million dollars lead by UK Technology investor DEEPBRIDGE CAPITAL.
OODLE: KKR steers £60m to car loans | Aimee Donnellan, The Sunday Times.
DZ profile: First Choice With Loans Limited
Business: car loan company. Over the past year, Oodle Finance has lent a total of £20m to customers through 20 car dealerships. It typically charges customers interest rates below 10%. Oodle is seeking to fill a gap in the car sales market. It provides financing for a range of credit profiles and uses technology to enable faster approvals.
Founders: Jonathan Clayton, a former managing director at Credit Suisse, and Phillip Williams, a financial services consultant
1. The buyout giant KKR has taken a controlling stake in Oodle Finance. KKR, whose other investments include the retailer Toys ‘R’ Us and railway ticketing company Trainline, has invested £60m in the business. The boost in capital will allow the company to expand its lending to more dealerships across Britain.
2. Last year, the number of second-hand cars sold in the UK reached its highest level on record, with more than 4m vehicles changing hands in the first half of 2016.
TERRA FIRMA: Buyout baron washes hands of wind farms | Daniel Dunkley, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Terra Firma Capital Partners Limited
Business: private equity company which owns FOUR SEASONS care homes; the ANNINGTON property empire; INFINIS, a UK independent pure green energy business; EVERPOWER, a U.S. based wind energy business; and RTR, an Italian solar energy business.
Founder: Guy Hands, 57, who has lived in Guernsey since 2009, when the UK introduced a 50pc tax rate for high earners. His wealth is estimated at £260m.
Financials: reported a 13pc decline in turnover in the year to March, to £24.6m, marking three years of decline and the lowest result since 2004. Pre-tax profits fell to £2.4m.
Investment: Investors - pension funds, financial institutions, sovereign wealth funds, endowments and family offices
1. Guy Hands, 57, the private equity tycoon, has revived plans to sell the rump of green energy company INFINIS after £400m sale talks with a Chinese buyer broke down last summer. The buyout baron has enlisted the help of RBC Capital Markets to offload the sites. The auction includes wind farms in Scotland, north Wales and the northeast of England.
2. Infinis has endured a rocky few years after an ill-fated float in November 2013. The shares plummeted after the government withdrew clean energy subsidies, forcing Hands to take it private in 2015. Since then it has been broken up.
3. A sale would mark a full exit for Hands, after 3i Infrastructure bought Infinis’s landfill-to-energy business for £185m in October.
4. Hands is desperate to salvage his reputation in the City after the collapse in 2010 of record label EMI, which cost investors £1.5bn. An Infinis sale would see his investment empire shrink further after cinema chain ODEON was sold to Chinese giant Dalian Wanda for £921m last summer. An investment in garden centre business WYEVALE has not grown as expected, while a stake in Four Seasons Health Care has been hit by difficulties in the adult social care sector. Lenders to Four Seasons are in talks about a debt-for-equity swap that could see Hands lose his entire £525m investment.
PURELIFI: How to make our spinouts graduate into new Googles | Kiki Loizou, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Purelifi Limited
Business: an alternative to wi-fi, using light waves instead of radio to beam a high-speed connection to your laptop or smartphone. By simply turning on the PureLiFi’s light and sitting under its glow, data can be sent to any device fitted with one of Haas’s chips.
Founder: Professor Harald Haas, 48, chair of mobile communications at Edinburgh University
Staff: team of 35 technologists and plans to double its headcount by the end of the year. Last year hired chief executive Alistair Banham, 60, to run PureLiFi.
Investment: has raised more than £20m from backers including the SCOTTISH INVESTMENT BANK and Singapore’s state-owned fund TEMASEK. EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY also owns a stake - thought to be roughly 20% - as well as some of the intellectual property rights.
XL DISPLAYS: I sparked family feud by being better at sales than Dad | Laura Onita, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Xl Displays Limited
Business: sells products such as exhibition stands and pavement signs. Makes some products in-house, though much of the work is outsourced to British and Chinese manufacturers. Customers include VIRGIN and WARNER BROS. Although Britain is XL’s main market, 12% of sales go to the Continent and America. The website accounts for 23% of orders.
Founder: Joanne Bass, 39, used £3,000 of her savings to set up the XL Displays website
Financials: reported pre-tax profits of £380,000 last year and is aiming for a 10% rise in sales this year to £4.2m
News: Bass was a winner in the 2016 NatWest Everywoman awards for entrepreneurs.
SNK STUDIOS: has the ear of Hollywood's finest | Alex Lawson, The Evening Standard. February 6
DZ profile: SNK Publishing Ltd
Business: Audio Post Production Studios. Alongside the audiobook and film work, there’s a slew of other disciplines: sound for ads, building websites, scriptwriting for commercials — even casting. Paddy Power Betfair, Spotify and Amazon are among those signing the cheques.
Location: London W1
Founders: Seb Juviler. Long-time business partner Kayvan “Kayv” Moghaddassi and Paul Golliker — who joined through a merger with marketing agency Red Apple Creative — make up the rest of the management , which owns 100%.
Financials: turnover £4.5m-£5m (this year)
News: SNK opened in New York last year.
FREEPOSTCODELOTTERY.COM: City worker hits jackpot as website valued at £10m | Lucy Tobin, The Evening Standard. February 10
DZ profile: Free Postcode Lottery Ltd
Business: free online lottery game which is free to enter, has a daily jackpot and is funded by advertisements. Entrants simply type in their postcode and email address. Mr Holbrook initially gave away £10 a day on FreePostcodeLottery.com, which he ran in his spare time. As interest grew and advertising revenue surged, he gradually raised the prize fund to more than £700 a day, with rollover prizes of up to £2,400. The site now has 300,000 visitors a day and has given away more than £300,000 in prizes in the past six years. The work has become a full-time job for Mr Holbrook and the eight employees he has had to take on, earning them more than £1 million a year. Mr Holbrook said his ambition was to be giving away £20,000 a day by 2020 and having a fifth of Britain’s population playing the game.
Founder: Chris Holbrook, 38, while working as an IT consultant in the City
Investment: City-based ZEAL INVESTMENTS, one of the world’s largest online lottery operators, has bought a 10 per cent stake in the company for £1 million, valuing the total business at £10 million.
Jaeger seeks investor to bolster growth | Tara Hounslea, Drapersonline.com. February 9
Troubled Jaeger hunts for backer or buyer | Clare Hutchison, The Evening Standard. February 10
DZ profile: Jaeger Limited
Business: high-end fashion brand and retailer of womenswear and menswear operating from a number of stores, concessions and outlets. The 131-year-old clothing brand lost its way after a shift to cheaper fabrics alienated its core middle-aged customer
Launched: founded in 1884 as “Dr Jaeger’s Sanitary Woollen System Company” by German doctor Gustav Jaeger, who extolled the health benefits of wearing natural fibres.
Staff: 680 staff across 46 shops, 63 concessions, its head office and a warehouse. Chief executive Chris Horobin, installed by Better Capital in 2015 to turn the chain around previously ran shopping channel QVC in Japan.
Financials: It is expected to perform similarly to last year, when it made an operating loss of £6.6 million.
Investment: Acquired by BETTER CAPITAL in 2012 for £19.5m
1. In the nine weeks to January 31, sales in Jaeger stores open for more than a year rose 9%. Online sales were up 22%.
2. Jaeger and Better Capital are working with the corporate finance arm of ALIX PARTNERS to evaluate interest from possible strategic partners or acquirers. Better Capital owner Jon Moulton told Drapers last month that he planned to wind up his private equity firm by 2020, but expects to have sold Jaeger within that timeframe.
3. Chief executive Chris Horobin said the firm now has a clear strategy in place and planned to relocate or open 10 to 12 stores in the next 18 months to two years. It has been moving away from a reliance on discounting to full-price sales and reducing its emphasis on outlets. Last year Jaeger closed three stores including its Regent Street flagship store ....and in October opened a 2,000 sq ft store on Marylebone High Street as part of its ongoing turnaround strategy. The store is understood to have exceeded expectations, and 50% of sales came from new customers. The retailer has since rolled out the new look and feel to concessions in Newbury and Wimbledon, where like-for-like sales have showed a double-digit increase since the refit.
4. A new website is set to go live at the start of March with some international language and currency options. Jaeger has started conversations with partners for overseas expansion, focusing on four markets: the US, the Far East, the Middle East and Europe. Currently 9% of online traffic comes from overseas and 5% of sales.
5. Jaeger is also exploring licensing and category extensions including swimwear, jewellery, women’s hosiery, sunglasses, home, bath and bodycare.
Jaeger is officially up for sale, confirms private equity guru Jon Moulton | Shruti Tripathi Chopra, City A.M. March 6 2017
6. Moulton told City A.M. that a sale "process is under way" with "a considerable number" of buyers having approached him already and blamed the heavy discounting witnessed on the high street for the sector’s troubles. “Everyone seems to be offering clothes at minus 70 per cent and that really is a nuisance because it destroys the image of your brand, it is hurting lots of retailers. Even Burberry is not having an easy time.” Harold Tillman, who was formerly head of Jaeger and Aquascutum, is interested in buying up the brand the Sunday Telegraph reported over the weekend.
Jaeger falls into administration putting 700 jobs at risk
Fashion chain becomes latest casualty on Britain’s high street | Conor Sullivan, FT. April 11, 2017
7. ... has collapsed into administration, putting almost 700 jobs at risk. ...AlixPartners had been appointed as administrator after Jaeger owner Better Capital had been unable to find a buyer “despite a lengthy and well publicised sales process”. Alix said Jaeger would continue trading, A person close to the company said that Better Capital had recently sold its debt in Jaeger to an unknown buyer. The administration means the purchaser of the debt will now decide the company’s fate. In November Better Capital said that it had sunk £69m into the business since it bought in and that “the high street proved very competitive going into early summer with heavy and a longer period of discounting”. Net cash was £4.2m with no external debt, as of September 30 2016. Jaeger recorded a loss before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £4.5m for the year to February 2016, according to a Better Capital investor presentation.
MARKET PORTER: For start-ups, worrying about the right things is a massive challenge | Matthew Caines, Telegraph Connect, Small business. February 10.
DZ profile: Market Porter Limited
Business: fresh food delivery service whose product range includes items from independent cheesemongers, chocolatiers, and charcutiers. Works with more than 35 suppliers and has a database of 20,000 regular customers (people who have ordered within the past six months). A shopper will purchase a product and the company will allocate that order to one of its suppliers (an algorithm locates the closest). At the end of the week, suppliers will invoice Market Porter for the total allocated orders for those seven days. MP prides itself on paying suppliers within seven and 14 days, which is sustainable because Market Porter will receive payment roughly five to seven days after a shopper’s card payment.
Location: London SE1
Founders: Stefan Porter and Nick Ford, Cambridge University graduates. Porter had set up, online butcher Meat Porter in 2014, sourcing fresh, restaurant-quality cuts of meat from hand-picked independent UK farmers, delivering them to customer doorsteps within 24 hours. Previously worked for Lidl, and rose through the ranks to become, at 24, head of one of the brand’s buying divisions. in 2015. Ford, who worked in investment banking, helped Porter to secure a round of angel investment and he company rebranded as Market Porter.
Financials: registered turnover of £2m last year
Investment: currently looking to raise a further £1m of growth capital.
Small-cap focus: telecoms. Investors are having to size up a new generation of start-ups | Nic Fildes, FT. February 11
DZ profile: The People's Operator Plc
Business: British network which aims to build an army of customers that want to devote a portion of their phone bill to charitable causes. It has made slow progress over the past two years due to delays in launching in America and technical issues. The People’s Operator abbreviated its name to TPO for its US launch
Location: London N1
Founders: Andrew Rosenfeld, Tom Gutteridge and Mark Epstein
Staff: chaired by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. The company has appointed Inmarsat veteran Michael Butler to the board and as a successor to Mr Wales.
Financials: Revenue for 2016 is expected at £3.6m, compared with £2.1m a year earlier. The company has also burnt through cash at a rapid rate, which led to the need for fresh capital. Its main shareholders, including Mr Wales, were forced to reach into their pockets as a result.
Investment: listed on the AIM in 2014.
DZ profile: Toople Plc
Business: provider of telecoms services to the UK SME market
Location: Letchworth Garden City
Founder: co-founded by David Breith, who previously established O-bit Telecom, which he sold to DAISY before joining Coms as chief executive. He left Coms in 2015 against a backdrop of mounting losses, a boardroom spat and an undeclared share purchase and then sold his software to Toople.
Financials: Results for the year to September 2016 …revenue remains below £1m, less than its pre-tax loss of £1.7m. It still has £750,000 of cash from the float.
Investment: a full market listing last year given at valuation of £8m. The stock has slumped 50 per cent since, as investors have become frustrated that the company has not provided forecasts to track its progress.