Venture Capital Trusts and Members Voluntary Liquidations

This is an area of specialism for Antony Batty and Company. It requires highly technical advice which results in a reduction in costs and the Liquidator’s risk. The solvent winding up of Venture Capital Trust (VCTs) using a Members Voluntary Liquidation is a particular specialism of ours. We have a great deal of experience and expertise in this specialist area, using a method of working which reduces the Liquidator’s risk and also the cost of the liquidation process. Our highly qualified team has the experience to deal with the complexities that members voluntary liquidations of VCTs often present.

The Members Voluntary Liquidation Process for Venture Capital Trusts

Venture Capital Trust (VCT) is a company listed on the London Stock Exchange, which raises money from investors and uses it to invest in young, innovative, and often privately-owned companies. VCTs were introduced in 1995, since when over £8 billion has been invested by them.

Like any solvent company that comes to the end of its useful like, VCTs (a special feature of which is that they have minimal assets or long-term illiquid assets) can be wound up cost-efficiently and effectively using the Members Voluntary Liquidation procedure (MVL). However, experience shows that the ongoing management fees and market listing fees of such VCTs can be uneconomic. This led us to develop a method of working that overcomes these issues.

Working to reduce risk and cost associated with MVLs of VCTs.

Responsibility for ongoing investment management and trading decisions is the key issue with the MVL process for VCTs is. Once appointed, a Liquidator becomes responsible for that Company, with the Board of Directors losing their agency powers.

Liquidators must be extremely cautious and generally seek independent advice regarding asset realisations. In the context of a VCT, however, such advice can be expensive. In addition, it can also increase the risk of shareholder challenges. This is because shareholders have specifically chosen an investment manager when investing in a VCT.

In order to overcome these issues, we have developed a method of working which reduces the Liquidator’s risk as well as the costs of the Liquidation process, whilst leaving responsibility for investment management decisions with the existing investment manager.

This is done by replacing the Board with a Supervisory Committee (usually comprising existing Board members) whose job is to make recommendations to the Liquidator based on advice received from the investment manager.

Further resolutions are also sought that:

We also seek a resolution enabling the distribution of asserts in specie. This enables any remaining investments to be distributed.

The Outcome is that costs are reduced significantly.

The above resolutions limit the Liquidator’s liability and enable the existing VCT decision structure to remain in place, which significantly reduces the time involvement of the Liquidator in the investment realisation process and, therefore, costs.

The Liquidator does however remain responsible for the Company and for complying with ongoing statutory responsibilities.

There will of course be pre-appointment costs associated with advising the Board and overseeing the Circular and convening the General Meeting, annual compliance costs and costs associated with distributing funds to shareholders. However, we seek to minimise these by using the Registrar to process payments and issue the associated paperwork.

Importantly, the costs saved by de-listing VCTs generally significantly exceed the costs of the Liquidation itself.

Contact us for help and advice with a members voluntary liquidation of a VCT.

We have successfully completed Members Voluntary Liquidations for over 10 VCTs.

Most recently two of our Licensed Insolvency Practitioners, Antony Batty and Hugh Jesseman, have been appointed as joint liquidators of Chrysalis VCT PLC, a generalist VCT, with assets under management of £15m and just under 2,000 shareholders.

If you have a client that is a VCT which is looking to enter a solvent liquidation, talk to our insolvency practitioners at any of our offices listed below. We have the experience and expertise to deliver efficient and cost-effective results.

And at K and W Recovery, trading as Antony Batty and Company, Thames Valley: