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Puma on the loose

Investment banking boutique Shore Capital aims to raise up to 32m for the Puma VCT, its first venture capital trust.

The company is led by executive chairman Howard Shore and was founded in 1985 to focus on entrepreneurial clients and investments in entrepreneurial businesses. More recently the company has expanded into market-making for smaller companies and research.

Unlike other VCTs this will have a limited life of five years, depending on the outcome of a shareholder vote, after which the capital will be returned to investors. It has a higher minimum investment of 10,000 compared to other VCTs and the non-qualifying element of the portfolio reflects its more sophisticated approach.

The non-qualifying element, in which all the money raised will initially be invested, will contain a fund of hedge funds, property vehicles and structured products. A proportion of the money raised will remain in these investments throughout the life of the product. Shore Capital is experienced in the areas contained in the non-qualifying element it currently runs a portfolio of hedge funds called the puma absolute return fund and jointly manages the Puma property fund.

The qualifying element of the portfolio will contain companies listed of Aim and Ofex, plus unquoted companies. Those which are chosen for the portfolio will have experienced management teams, good business plans and strong financial controls. Shore Capital will have one eye on the downside risk and the other on the growth potential of these companies. Its network of industry contacts will be used to find these investment opportunities.

The VCT with have a dual structure with two VCTs having the same portfolio. Each VCT can invest up to 1m in a single company, so the structure makes larger investments possible.

This VCT is likely to appeal more to higher net worth VCT investors due to its minimum investment and the sophisticated non-qualifying investments it will hold.

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