The Albion VCTs have announced an offer for up to £60 million, spread across five VCTs. The five VCTs have total net assets of £579 million and a portfolio of around 70 companies.
All the VCTs are expected to invest in the same deals going forwards, with a bias towards healthcare technology, fintech, cybersecurity and data investments. Over the five years to September 2023, the five VCTs that are raising have generated NAV total returns of between 36.4% and 45.31%.
The VCTs target a dividend of 5% of NAV per annum.
For many investors, the key to Albion’s attraction is the fact all the VCTs aim to pay dividends in different months of the year. Spread your money across all five VCTs currently fundraising and you could potentially receive a tax free dividend in ten months of the year – an attractive source of potential income.
However, Albion deserves attention for other reasons too.
“The manager has a long and impressive track record of backing growth companies and achieving attractive exits,” noted Nicholas Hyett, an investment manager with Wealth Club. “Back in 2022 the group sold its stake in financial data group Credit Kudos to Apple for £14.4 million, a healthy 4.8x return. It’s current top holding, big data group Quantexa, recently raised money at a $1.8 billion valuation with the VCT’s position valued at nearly £110 million (around 11x cost).”
Hyett said that an attractive structure, good investment performance and small early-bird capacity could all combine to make Albion one of the most attractive recent VCT offers when it opens to applications in January.
Why VCTs are worth investing in
Most investors are initially attracted to VCTS for the tax breaks, and they are generous. Investors can get up to 30% back in income tax relief up front, any dividends paid by the VCT are tax free and growth is free of capital gains tax too.
However, VCTs are more than just a tax planning tool. They’re probably the best way for UK investors to access fast growing smaller companies. Revenue growth from VCT investees far outstrips what you see in main market listed companies, and the result has been some attractive returns for investors over the longer term.
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Exposure to high growth, smaller companies also has the potential to diversify a conventional portfolio. Long-term performance is often only loosely correlated with the wider economy. Highly disruptive businesses grow by taking market share from incumbents rather than relying on market growth.
The rules governing VCTs mean they’re also an excellent way to back smaller businesses. It’s their role providing support to the next generation of UK start-ups, driving innovation and creating jobs, that earns them the tax relief from the government – and many investors feel that this is something they wish to support too.
Who should consider VCTs?
VCTs are higher risk, and while they’re listed on the stock market, in order to qualify for tax relief investors must hold the shares of at least five years before selling – making them inherently long-term investments. Unlike most conventional funds and shares the minimum among you can invest is comparatively high – often £3,000 or more. All of this means they are best suited to wealthier or more sophisticated investors.
VCTs are popular with two groups in particular.
The first is higher earners or wealthier investors who are limited in what they can put into more mainstream tax wrappers, as well as those who already use their full £20,000 ISA allowance or whose pension contributions are tapered due to the amount they earn. The £200,000 a year annual VCT allowance is generous and can save higher earners up to £60,000 in upfront income tax.
The second group is those in, or near, retirement who use VCTs’ tax free dividends to supplement income from other sources. Because they’re higher risk, VCTs shouldn’t be considered a replacement for a pension, but they can help to top-up income from more conventional sources.