Foresight wins Noble VCT mandate

Foresight’s appointment, which is part of Noble VCT’s investment strategy aimed at obtaining greater exposure to unquoted investments for the fund, is taking place with effect from April 1 2008.

Discussions are currently in progress regarding a possible merger of Noble VCT with Foresight 3 VCT. Such a merger will be subject to the approval of the shareholders of Noble VCT and Foresight 3 VCT.

Formerly known as Enterprise VCT, Noble VCT was formed in 1996 and was, at the time, known for its innovative investment strategy by which 25% of the fund was invested in unquoted companies, a further 25% invested in government stocks or comparable instruments and the remaining 50% placed with Lloyds TSB to be invested as corporate loans at a discounted rate of interest, to assist qualifying unquoted companies. It was renamed Noble VCT in August 2005.

Noble VCT is the third new mandate to be awarded to Foresight in less than four years. In August 2004, Foresight took over the investment management of Advent VCT plc and Advent 2 VCT plc, now Foresight 3 VCT and Foresight 4 VCT. Since that time, Foresight 3 and Foresight 4 have generated portfolio returns of +63% and +55% respectively and produced total net asset returns of 19% and 9% for the year ended December 31 2007. In addition, the funds have paid their first dividends after gaps of seven years (Foresight 3) and five and a half years (Foresight 4). Foresight 3 has been recognised as one of the best performing VCTs over the last year (source: AIC 2008), providing further evidence of Foresight’s successful turnaround of the fund’s performance since taking over the mandate in 2004.

Bernard Fairman, managing partner of Foresight Group, commented: “With more than 20 years’ experience of investing in unquoted companies, Foresight is well placed to implement Noble VCT’s investment strategy. Adding Noble VCT to our existing portfolio of five VCTs is a strong endorsement of our longstanding and successful track record of managing VCTs and our ability to generate shareholder returns for investors. We intend to adopt broadly the same strategy that has been central to the turnaround of the Advent funds with the aim of rebuilding the NAV of Noble VCT and refreshing the portfolio by bringing in new money and engineering exits where appropriate. We believe the fund has excellent prospects for the medium-to-long term.”

Foresight currently has two VCT share offerings in the market: a £10m top-up for Foresight 2 ‘C’ VCT, its tech and CleanTech fund, and a £10m top-up across its four core VCT funds. Foresight has also recently closed a £22m environmental EIS fund, which was heavily over-subscribed and will shortly be launching an institutional fund to support the roll-out of its UK environmental infrastructure projects.