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Bing a step closer to global icon status after latest £4m EIS raise

by LLB Finance Reporter
23rd Nov 20 1:34 pm

Acamar Films, the London-based independent production company behind the BBC’s hit pre-school children’s show, Bing, has raised just over £4 million in its latest EIS fundraising round.

In the recent fundraising, which valued the company at £100 million £2.46 million of the £4 million total was placed by Wealth Club, the UK’s largest investment platform for experienced investors. The raise marked the third time in which Wealth Club has led on a round for the company, and brings the total amount invested in Acamar by Wealth Club members to £9.7 million.

Now embarking on its next stage of growth, Acamar is using the proceeds of its latest funding round to invest in replicating its proven and phenomenal success in the UK, Italy and Poland, across new markets, including the USA, Japan and China.

Unusually for such a popular franchise, the Bing intellectual property is privately owned by Acamar Films – a business that still qualifies for investment under the UK’s Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). EIS encourages private investors to support promising young UK businesses, by offering generous tax incentives.

Bing’s commercial journey has so far been financed by Acamar’s CEO Mikael Shields and his family – they have a total of £6 million currently invested in the business – along with over £18 million of equity investment from other private investors, over half of which is from Wealth Club members. The company has raised all financing to date without major investment from trade partners, and as a result, Acamar retains full control of its entitlement to 98% of its net revenues, potentially creating significant shareholder value.

The Bing story so far

Since first appearing in 2014, Bing has become the #1 most requested pre-school show on the BBC iPlayer with over 500 million requests to date, and is broadcast on CBeebies and Wales’ S4C. Episodes are also licensed across 130 territories spanning Europe, the Nordics, Asia, Africa, Australia, Canada and the Middle East.

At last count, the show’s episodes had surpassed 2.6 billion lifetime views on YouTube, while the recently launched ‘Bing: Watch, Play, Learn’ app (featuring free and in-app purchase content) has now been downloaded over 600,000 times across the UK, Italy and Poland.

Last year, demand amongst ‘Bingsters’ around the world for Acamar’s offering of Bing-licensed books, toys, apparel and other treasurables generated an estimated retail value of £40 million. This year, their appetite for Bing placed it in the top 10 fastest growing toy licenses from January to June 2020 in the UK, according to NPD.

Alex Davies, CEO and founder of Wealth Club said, “It’s exciting to be part of Bing’s journey to global icon status. Proven and growing IP assets such as Bing are rarely privately owned, so Acamar presents investors the rare opportunity to invest in an asset of this type mid-stream – and, moreover, with EIS tax reliefs. Acamar’s success over the last few years shows how, with access to the right type of funding, these smaller businesses can compete on a level playing field with those with far greater corporate muscle.”

Mikael Shields, CEO and co-founder of Acamar added, “We take great care to ensure that our characters, and the stories we tell, genuinely equip our audience with a meaningful and authentic reflection of their daily lives. In an increasingly ‘on-demand’ world, with dizzying levels of choice, our growing levels of engagement and audience support show just how deeply we have been invited into the cherished daily routines of young children and the grown-ups in their lives. We live and breathe this responsibility to our audience, and as our global reach increases, so does our success. We are enormously grateful to the team at Wealth Club for their highly professional support for our organisation over many years now”.

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