BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active investor, today announces details of its 2021 investment activity that mark a record year for the firm and underline its critical contribution to the growth economy.
BGF invested £600 million, including 67 new deals, over the course of 2021, a 55% increase in the total amount invested compared to 2020. Nearly three quarters (73%) of the total sum invested – was with companies based outside of London and the South East, demonstrating an enduring commitment to ensuring growth capital reaches the full breadth of the UK and Ireland, a core differentiator of BGF’s approach delivered across 16 local offices.
At the same time, total investment since 2011 passed the £3 billion milestone as BGF celebrated its 10th anniversary with the most successful year in its history. This is a huge step up from the £13 million invested in three companies in 2011, and BGF has now backed over 460 companies to date.
Investments made by BGF in the last year have spanned the length and breadth of the UK. These include leading the £70 million Series C funding round for global femtech brand, Elvie; £8.5 million to high-growth Scottish IT group, Kick ICT, £7.5m to Lancashire e-commerce company, Fulfilment Crowd; £12 million to North East procurement business, Bloom; and £10.5 million to Thames Valley cyber security firm, e2e-assure.
Exits from portfolio companies were at a record high in 2021, with the 39 divestments representing a 40% increase on exits completed in 2020. Exits delivered in 2021 generated returns of £571 million. This included financial technology consultancy Cennox acquired by a US trade buyer, Herefordshire-based Chase Distillery acquired by global multinational Diageo, and Lightfoot, a fast growth business that creates connected vehicle technology acquired by a private equity firm, showing the multiple routes to profitability that BGF is creating.
These record levels of investment underscore the sustained demand for growth capital on a minority basis that exists in the growth economy, and the funding gap that BGF has been successfully filling for the past decade. The upward trend on successful exits is evidence of the quality of BGF’s diversified portfolio and also testament to the patient capital model, reflecting the importance of long-term, sustained investment that sits at the heart of BGF’s approach.
Across BGF’s 2021 portfolio, there was an increased focus on investments within companies accelerating the green economy, including Reactive Technologies, whose technology is helping accelerate the clean energy transition; and follow-on funding to Aceleron, manufacturer of the world’s first recyclable, upgradeable and serviceable lithium-ion batteries.
There was also an increased focus on investments in the flourishing life sciences sector, including the personalised drug and digital therapy provider Closed Loop Medicine, biopharmaceutical company Phoremost, and medical device business Vasorum.
Stephen Welton, Executive Chair of BGF, said, “We are extremely proud of the business’s performance over the past year, and indeed across the whole 10 years we’ve been operating. The record year of activity is testament to the fact that there is substantial demand for growth capital in the UK and Ireland, and entrepreneurs are seeking out an investment partner that can add value and support them on their scaling journey. BGF is a trusted investment partner of real scale and impact today, giving further substance to our ambitions to help power innovation and growth across the whole economy. Given the ongoing challenging trading environment and uncertainties ahead, we need to ensure that ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs have access to sufficient growth capital to build the businesses that will fuel economic growth in the long run. We are confident that BGF can play a big part in delivering this”
Andy Gregory, Chief Investment Officer at BGF added, “Our portfolio is more diverse than ever, and it’s been encouraging to see so many exciting new sectors emerge as great investment prospects – whether it’s life sciences, e-commerce or indeed clean tech, which will be so crucial for our economic recovery in the long term. What’s more, we’re delighted with the upward trend of successful exits – testament to the fact BGF is viewed as an increasingly attractive and dynamic investment partner. The evidence of our approach across so many companies and sectors is clearly paying off following a significant increase in successful exits that are generating great returns for all shareholders.”