Private collateral management does not have an especially good reputation, given its ruthless quest for income – often at the trouble of people’s jobs. But it can be an image Colm Walsh desires to dispel. As a business, we are not good at articulating what we should do,’ says Walsh. As a result, there is a lot of negativity about us being asset strippers. But that’s not what we are all about. We are interested in buying cash generative businesses – often companies that aren’t that exciting from the outside and quite defensive – and then at some stage exiting, hopefully making an increase on our purchases along the way.
The trust is one of lots of funds run by Intermediate Capital Group, a FTSE 250-listed company that handles resources of £35 billion across equities, private equity and credit. Could you trade shares free of charge? Its performance record is more than reputable with shareholder earnings within the last five many years of 63 per cent, in excess of the 34 % gain registered by the FTSE All-Share Index. Typically, the trust’s strategy is to purchase private businesses via private equity funds managed by specialists such as TDR Capital (UK structured), New York-based Leeds Equity Partners, PAI Partners and Advent International.
The funds target the companies they would like to invest in. ICG Business then often supports this indirect finance investment with a primary stake in the business themselves. So through TDR, it owns a slice of successful health insurance and leisure business David Lloyd while via Leeds, it offers a holding in Endeavour, an operator of private schools in the United States. In addition, it has distinct stakes in both businesses.
David Lloyd is a business in growth setting,’ says Walsh. He provides: ‘Endeavour is benefiting from the growth in private pre-school education in america. Both businesses are resilient, are growing as a result of demographic change, and are capable of expanding through economic cycles. The best profits, so far as ICG Business shareholders are worried, come when the trust can understand some of its investments, maybe because of this of a business either seeking a listing on the stock market or being sold.
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Potential investors need to be alert to two other key points. First, the trust pays a quarterly dividend, equivalent to a moderate annual income of 2.5 %. Secondly, the trust’s shares are trading at a sizeable 17 per cent discount to the value of the root assets, a reflection of the known fact that private collateral sometimes appears as a risky asset class.
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