What effect Brexit is likely to have on VCTs

This article is part of
Guide to VCT investing

What effect Brexit is likely to have on VCTs

Brexit will knock the UK off the top spot for venture capital and private equity investment - so stated an academic report earlier this year.

The report from the IESE Business School at the University of Navarra, suggested the UK's attraction as a place for international venture capital and private equity investment would fall from its current 2nd place to 6th place.

The data, based on the Venture Capital and Private Equity Country Attractiveness Index, which analyses 125 countries according to metrics such as economic activity, depth of capital markets and corporate governance, suggests the UK has always scored "very high" based on such metrics.

Article continues after advert

Over the past nine years, the Index has put the US at the top, followed by the UK and then Canada in third place. But this all could change based on the IESE's Brexit scenario for the various metrics that make up the Index.

The table highlighting the UK's possible drop is pictured below.

According to Professor Heinrich Liechtenstein of IESE Finance: "A loss of several positions [for the UK] is almost inevitable.

"Additional regulatory burdens, as well as a slowing economy and an inevitable brain drain will make the UK less attractive to venture capital and private equity investors."

But while some organisations are predicting a down-draft on international fund flows into venture capital and private equity in the UK post-Brexit, will this also mean a lack of possible funding for start-ups and therefore a lack of investment opportunities for venture capital trusts (VCTs)?

Does what happens on a macro level necessarily percolate through to the British entrepreneurs being targeted by VCTs and enterprise investment schemes (EIS)?

There are two potential ways in which Brexit could have an effect on VCT investment, according to Alex Davies, chief executive of Wealth Club. One is whether Brexit means the rules dictating where VCTs can invest are relaxed, and whether Brexit will affect VCT investment.

Rules on where VCTs can invest

The Patient Capital Review was crystal clear about where VCT managers could put their inflows to work to best boost British business.

Under the Review, the 30 per cent income tax breaks within VCTs are provided in order to give investors a reason for putting their money to work in higher-risk, start-up businesses in Britain.

Areas of specific interest include technology developments, the gaming industry, biotechnology and financial technology, as outlined in the November 2017 Budget statement by chancellor Phillip Hammond. 

For Mr Davies, therefore, the fact the UK is heading into a Brexit world is unlikely to mean a significant shift in this emphasis. 

He explains: "We've seen an alignment of legislation between what was emphasised in the Autumn Budget [2017] where VCT investment needs would have to be channelled into young, knowledge-centric, risk-taking companies, and the previous compliance with EU State Aid rules."