Investors face tempting opportunity from “best of Yorkshire” businesses

Zoo Digital cloud dubbing

Any Yorkshire investors keen on helping to raise the profile of the region’s innovation might well wish to consider a new opportunity that showcases some of the county’s most successful businesses.

York-based asset management company Mole Valley Asset Management (MVAM) has launched a new ‘Yorkshire T20′ portfolio, which is believed to be the first of its kind. Made up of 20 handpicked, listed companies from across the county, MVAM is determined to champion some of the best businesses the county has to offer and provide a way for people to grow their savings while supporting local, home-grown industry.

Duncan Sanford, who heads up the innovative Mole Valley’s Yorkshire office, in York’s Blake Street, has carefully built the portfolio over the past year, based on his extensive regional experience as former chief executive and chief investment officer for Nestlé Capital Management Ltd, the famous chocolate manufacturer’s global pension fund, and former Interim Deputy CIO of LGPS Central Limited; as well his knowledge derived from living and working in the region and extensive relationship-building with firms ‘made in Yorkshire’.

The Yorkshire T20 reflects MVAM’s ethos of community-focused investing and asset management, based on playing an active part in regional economies and close and lasting engagement with firms and potential investors alike. The fund includes a scientific innovator on the brink of announcing a ground-breaking test for the COVID-19 coronavirus, and a creative company pioneering new digital technology in the entertainment industry.

Duncan said: “Over 80 companies that have head offices in Yorkshire are listed on the stock markets, from gourmet food producers to digital gaming companies, property giants and healthcare equipment minnows.

“Living and working in the region, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the variety, quality and success of the enterprises of all shapes and sizes to be found here. To my mind, Yorkshire is at the forefront of business innovation in the UK across a broad range of industry sectors, which provides the perfect opportunity for people who would like to invest their money closer to home.

“And because our regional Mole Valley offices – in Yorkshire and Surrey – are established in the heart of their communities, they can take the time to really get under the skin of these companies, build close relationships, identify changing trends and select, with confidence, those which represent the best opportunities for people in the region.”

Mole Valley first announced its intention of creating the portfolio when it opened its dedicated York office in February 2019, and has spent the 12 months since carefully selecting the first contingent for the portfolio, and rehearsing its investment strategy in a test format.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure deep diving into the Yorkshire business community to really get to know its most promising firms, and select the first set for inclusion in our portfolio,” added Duncan.

“There is so much potential in this area – in industries from digital to creative and pharmaceutical – it’s hard to choose, but we believe what we’ve come up with is an excellent group of listed firms which are either already hugely successful or, in many cases, about to break through.

“Our approach is to work with the businesses we’ve selected, and others that are up and coming, so that we can accompany them along their growth journey.”

And this ultra-personal approach is also reflected in MVAM’s active portfolio management, aimed at ensuring it can respond to opportunities and potential threats.

“We’re a small investment house,” added Duncan, “and our size means that we can invest in companies, regardless of their size, without encountering the problems larger portfolio managers have when investing in smaller companies. It gives us an advantage.”

Presenting at MVAM’s York opening last year was a company the asset manager has been invested in since its inception, Wetherby-based biotech Avacta. Already working to develop a new class of cancer drugs aimed at patients who don’t respond to existing therapies, this year Avacta has also turned its attention to the fight against COVID-19, with an announcement imminent on its work to develop a game-changing instant testing kit for the virus.

Avacta CEO Alastair Smith said: “I am delighted and honoured that Avacta finds a place in MVAM’s Yorkshire T20 portfolio.

‘I’m a Yorkshireman myself and many of our employees based at our Wetherby lab and head office are local, and it’s great to have a showcase like this for the innovation and entrepreneurship going on in Yorkshire.

“Our roots are firmly in Yorkshire but we’re partnering around the world to develop novel cancer therapies and powerful diagnostics to help shape the future of medicine.”

Another impressive company included in the portfolio is ZOO Digital, based in Sheffield, London, Los Angeles and Dubai, which provides of range of services for entertainment media companies around the world.

The company’s CEO Dr Stuart Green said: “We have always been incredibly pleased by the amount of local private investor support we receive. This portfolio provides another platform and a new way to reach a wider local audience of investors who are eager to support local businesses.”

Duncan believes MVAM is also at the forefront of emerging investor trends, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“While, of course, there’s always going to be an appetite for investment in global companies, we’ve seen the tide starting to turn for some time, with people looking increasingly to be part of their local economies,” he added.

“We can only see that counter-globalisation drive increasing post-COVID-19, as people re-assess their priorities in all aspects of their lives. And, if they’re increasingly looking to shop local, why not invest local as well?”

And this could be the ideal time to consider investing for other reasons, too.

“Sadly, as we all know, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted severely on the community, international stock markets and the economy,” said Duncan.

“However, what that means is – while it’s always essential to proceed with caution and seek advice before investing, which we are committed to offering on a case-by-case basis – some stocks represent exceptionally good value at the moment. This is naturally caveated with the warning that the impact may be longer lasting on the economy.”

In addition to its strong Yorkshire pedigree, MVAM’s ethos is based on transparency about the performance of its portfolios and the ability for its investors to access their capital on demand.

And early signs are very positive, in terms of interest in the portfolio, as well as the promise the firms within the Yorkshire T20 are demonstrating.

Duncan added: “We believe now is the time to offer investors a more local choice, in line with current public sentiment. A number of our 20 selected companies are on the brink of significant growth – in some cases as a direct result of their response to the pandemic.

“This is a chance for Yorkshire people to participate in the success of home-grown businesses that will very much appreciate local support as they continue to fly the flag for the region.”


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