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Elderstreet knocks on investors door

Venture capital manager Elderstreet is raising up to 15m through a C-share issue for the Elderstreet venture capital trust.

The VCT is a generalist trust which was established in 1998. It invests mainly in unquoted companies and, to a lesser extent, in Aim companies. Around 50 proposals a month are coming its way through priority access to stockbroker Seymour Pierce.

The proceeds from this share issue will be initially invested in cash deposits and A rated bonds managed by Smith & Williamson. It will then be invested in qualifying companies which are established and profitable, despite their unquoted status.

The VCT will draw on the retail, media and private equity experience of the board. The board comprises David Brock, formerly of MFI Furniture Group, Luke Johnson who is chairman of channel 4 and owner of Signature Restaurants and former managing director of Dresdner Kleinwort Benson Private Equity, Barry Dean.

An interesting feature of this VCT is that the chairman, Michael Jackson also chairman of the Sage Group, has taken out a secured loan to back plans to return 30p for every 1 invested by September 30, 2008. This return will be paid out of reserves or the VCTs profits, but if there is not enough cash available the loan will come into play. However, this return is not guaranteed and will depend on Jacksons ability to repay the loan.

According to the March issue of the Allenbridge Tax Shelter Report, the past performance of the Elderstreet VCT is mixed but appears to be improving, with a 14.9 per cent increase in its net asset value over the past 12 months. Investors have also enjoyed a consistent flow of dividends and in Allenbridges view, the prospects for this VCT are brighter than they have been for some time.

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