Supporting you
and your clients
during coronavirus

Welcome to our dedicated page hosting news and resources to keep you updated on how our business is responding to Covid-19 and how we think the pandemic is impacting financial markets. We hope you find this resource useful. We'll keep it updated so please check back regularly for the latest news and views from across our business. 


Given the rapid changes due to Covid-19, we wanted to let you know what we’re doing to offer you and your clients the best support possible.

We're taking a proactive approach

We believe the situation will continue to change fairly swiftly, so we’re implementing proactive measures to stay ahead of developments wherever possible.

To reduce the risk to our employees and our business, and to you and your clients, our teams are already working remotely where possible. However, we are still very much business as usual.

Our Investor Services team is operating as normal to process your clients’ new applications and respond to their enquiries, while our Business Development team is also working regular office hours (9am-6pm) and available to speak with you whenever you need them.

Safeguarding our stakeholders

In the current environment, we are no longer holding face-to-face meetings. Instead, our teams are available via phone and email, and can meet with you through our range of webinar, conferencing and virtual channels. Our systems are tried and tested so, despite these abnormal times, our service and communications to you will continue as normal.

In terms of future-proofing, our business is fully set up to work remotely without interruption. With employees based around the UK, all of our systems are already cloud-based, with back-up servers in place to protect data.

We are also undertaking a daily review of the Government guidance to continue implementing effective measures as the situation evolves.

Talking with us

It is understandable some of your clients may feel unsettled in these times. However, our investments are designed as long-term strategies and our Business Development team and Investment Directors are at your disposal to answer any questions that you or your clients may have so please get in touch at bd@pumainvestments.co.uk or 0207 408 4070.

To ensure our application process continues without interruption during this time, we have expanded our use of DocuSign across our entire product range. DocuSign allows all applications to be completed digitally without the need to print, scan and post.If you or your clients would prefer to complete a handwritten application, we are also happy to accept scans, provided we are still sent the hardcopies for record-keeping. Either follow the process below, or to discuss finding a process that works for you, please contact your local BDM, via email here, and they’ll be more than happy to assist.

  • To receive an application form via DocuSign, please request a secure link from your usual business development contact, or call us on 0207 408 4070.
  • Alternatively if you've got signed application forms printed and ready to go, simply scan or clearly photograph them on your smartphone and email them to us at: info@pumainvestments.co.uk 
  • You can send original print copies through to us as soon as practicable thereafter.

We hope you are well and that you are staying safe. We wanted to take this opportunity to update you on our VCT and EIS portfolios, which are managed by Puma Private Equity, including how we have been engaging with existing portfolio companies and new investment opportunities during this unprecedented time.

Supporting Puma's portfolios

Our normal monitoring cycle involves very close contact with our portfolio companies and our standard process includes collecting daily sales figures, reviewing monthly management accounts, attending monthly board meetings and conducting a monthly portfolio review. During this period we have increased the level of interaction with portfolio companies and changed our portfolio review meeting from monthly to weekly, as we closely review cash management and outlook.

To help portfolio companies navigate this time, we have also provided them with in-depth resources about the government support packages and hosted calls for them with our advisers on specialist areas such as employment law. Retaining a long-term view, we are helping our companies with strategies to conserve cash during this period of contraction but also to position themselves to capitalise on the opportunities for growth that may arise.

Outlook for our portfolio

In assessing the current situation’s impact, our wider portfolio (covering our EIS offers and most of the qualifying companies within our VCTs) can be broadly split into two categories. These are: businesses based in physical units (such as pubs, retail, leisure); and organic growth businesses with a larger digital focus.

For the first category (most represented in VCTs 10, 11 and 12, and Puma EIS), trading units are temporarily closed. These companies are managing costs as aggressively as possible and taking full advantage of government support relating to staff costs. The freehold bias in our portfolio has also helped keep property costs low and rent holidays are being utilised in some cases.

For our organic growth businesses (highly represented in VCT 13, Alpha VCT and Alpha EIS), these are largely still open and trading – and in some cases trading very well – however, longer-term growth rates may be lower than originally expected.

One impact that will be felt within all aspects of the UK economy is the loss of time, with take-outs, exits, sales and other transformational transactions being pushed back by several months or more. Whilst we do not think that deployment timelines will be affected, realisation periods may be extended, especially for our earlier VCTs.

Talking with us

We hope this information will reassure you and your clients that, with careful management, it is possible for VCT and EIS-funded businesses to navigate and even grow during this time.

Our Alpha VCT and Alpha EIS remain open for investment and if you would like to discuss these or our other investment portfolios in more detail, or talk about your clients’ investment needs, our Business Development team would be delighted to speak or meet virtually. You can reach us at bd@pumainvestments.co.uk or 0207 408 4070.

We remain committed to supporting our portfolio companies and your clients, and working to deliver high-quality deployment in a timely fashion, along with strong, risk-adjusted returns.

 

Webinar: Puma Alpha VCT & EIS, Covid-19 and the outlook for the private equity market

Join us on Thursday 25 June at 9:30am for a 45-minute webinar, including Q&A, where Rupert West, Managing Director of Puma Private Equity and Karen Sullivan, Head of Strategic Partnerships, will discuss the outlook for the private equity market and the exciting opportunities within Puma Alpha VCT and Puma Alpha EIS. They will speak about topics including:

  • The outlook for the economy and the new normal
  • How businesses have traded through the pandemic and how affected sectors are now reopening
  • Opportunities in the current environment, and for the businesses in the Alpha portfolios
  • The preparations for Puma Alpha VCT's upcoming reopening

If there are particular subjects you would like to be covered, please send any questions in advance to info@pumainvestments.co.uk.

You can also submit questions throughout the webinar which we will answer at the end. If we don’t manage to get to your question, we’ll come back to you separately after the webinar. 

Book your place here.

The webinar is for investment professionals only.

 

Webinar: Puma Alpha VCT & EIS, Covid-19 and the outlook for the private equity market

We've launched a new webinar series to share views with you from across the company about how we believe Covid-19 is impacting financial markets. Our first webinar was hosted by Rupert West, Managing Director of Puma Private Equity, who spoke about the outlook for the private equity market and discussed the topics below. You can listen to the recording here. We'll also add news of our upcoming webinars to this page so check back regularly and secure your place at the next one.   

  • How Covid-19 is impacting the private equity market and its outlook
  • Specific sectors within this space
  • What the future looks like – and where we’re already seeing opportunities
  • A brief update on Puma Alpha VCT and Puma Alpha EIS

The webinar is for investment professionals only.


 An investment with Puma Investments carries risks. Past performance is no indication of future results and share prices and their values can go down as well as up. Minimum returns are not guaranteed. An investment with Puma Investments can be viewed as high risk. Investors' capital may be at risk and investors may get back less than their original investment. Tax reliefs depend on individuals' personal circumstances, minimum holding periods and may be subject to change. Some investments should be regarded as illiquid and it may prove difficult for investors to realise immediately or in full the proceeds.

We hope you are well and that you are staying safe. We wanted to provide you with an update on Puma Heritage, including how we have been engaging with developers, monitoring the loan portfolio and assessing lending opportunities during this time.

The Puma Heritage loan book

The situation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic remains uncertain and outcomes are impossible to fully predict. Notwithstanding that uncertainty, we believe that the loan book is well positioned to withstand the current disruption and resulting economic impact.

Puma Heritage has no leverage. The loan book also has a conservative weighted average loan to value of 60% with all loans benefitting from first charge security, as well as typically additional cover in the form of cost-overrun and interest guarantees. This provides significant downside protection in circumstances where projects are delayed or underlying asset values are reduced.

Furthermore, several of the loans benefit from known exits in that the assets have been forward sold to institutions, such sales to complete once the assets have been constructed. In addition, the book is well diversified across the UK, both geographically and by sector.

Whilst the lockdown has inevitably had some impact on development activity, we are encouraged that the majority of construction sites across the UK are open. This trend is also reflected in our own experience, where the majority of the construction projects in the loan book have continued to operate through the lockdown.

Cautious lending in our current environment

Puma Heritage is advised by the Puma Property Finance team which has a long and successful track record in property lending, which includes operating through the last financial crisis. To date, the team has executed over £600m of loans and construction projects and has not suffered any capital losses.

The business has a strong pipeline and the team continues to appraise potential opportunities whilst taking a prudent view with regard to underwriting new loans.

We are pleased to say Puma Heritage has been deployed into new loans during this time – where we believe the fundamentals of an opportunity are robust and the economic outlook has been appropriately factored in. As always, this is done with a cautious approach, carefully scrutinising both the proposals and the people behind them.

In line with our heightened rigour in response to the current environment, since the onset of Covid-19 the team also increased its portfolio monitoring to weekly appraisals, to ensure even closer monitoring of the portfolios. 

 

Webinar: Puma Heritage EPS and the current state of the UK Property Finance Market

As a follow on from his previous webinar, on Thursday 21 May Eliot Kaye, Managing Director of Puma Property Finance, delivered an update on topics including:

  • The continuing impact of Covid-19 on the UK property finance market
  • How certain sectors are evolving in light of Covid-19
  • The Puma Heritage Estate Planning Service
  • What we are expecting in the future and where we continue to see opportunities

You can listen to the recording here

The webinar is for investment professionals only.

 

Webinar: Puma Heritage, Covid-19 and the outlook for the property finance market

As part of our new webinar series on how we believe Covid-19 is impacting financial markets, the first webinar was kicked off by Eliot Kaye, Managing Director of Puma Property Finance, who spoke about its impact on the property finance market and the topics below. You can listen to the recording here. We'll also add news of our upcoming webinars to this page so check back regularly and secure your place at the next one.

  • How Covid-19 is impacting the property finance market and its outlook
  • A look at specific sectors within property finance in the current climate
  • An update on Puma Heritage 
  • What we are expecting in the future and where we're seeing opportunities

The webinar is for investment professionals only.


 An investment with Puma Investments carries risks. Past performance is no indication of future results and share prices and their values can go down as well as up. Minimum returns are not guaranteed. An investment with Puma Investments can be viewed as high risk. Investors' capital may be at risk and investors may get back less than their original investment. Tax reliefs depend on individuals' personal circumstances, minimum holding periods and may be subject to change. Some investments should be regarded as illiquid and it may prove difficult for investors to realise immediately or in full the proceeds. Past performance is no indication of future results and share prices and their values can go down as well as up. Figures correct at 31 March 2020, source: Puma Heritage Ltd.

The coronavirus pandemic has meant significant changes for many adapting to working from home. It has also created volatility and uncertainty in the markets. However, despite these unsettling times, it’s very much business as usual for the Puma Alternative Investment Market (AIM) team, who manage the Puma AIM Inheritance Tax Service.

Already set up to work remotely

In line with government guidelines, Puma Investments employees moved to working from home. The AIM team was already set up for this, so investment analysis and trading has continued uninterrupted.

Impact on financial markets

Financial markets have reacted with the usual combination of attempting to re-price risk, whilst also displaying signs of short-term panic. The government measures taken to delay and contain the coronavirus will continue to have a material impact on economic life in the coming months. The level of restrictions imposed and the duration will impact how quickly and how smoothly the economy recovers. The team continues to closely monitor developments to understand how this will impact the companies we invest into and to ensure that our portfolio remains resilient in the long-term.

Portfolio company updates

Since the crisis started, most portfolio companies have made a trading statement. Common themes include furloughing staff, cutting capital expenditure and taking other measures to conserve cash including cancelling dividends. We expect to see the portfolio’s dividend income temporarily reduced as a result, although some cash-rich companies are continuing with dividend payments.

We target profitable, cash generative businesses with strong balance sheets. We expect these companies to survive the current crisis and thrive in the future.

Our outlook for the Puma AIM and Puma AIM ISA Inheritance Tax portfolio

Regarding existing performance, in Q1 2020 the portfolio decreased by -27.28%, a +1.52% outperformance of the FTSE AIM All Share Index. However, since inception in July 2014, the portfolio has increased by +19.64% compared to a decline of -13.13% in the FTSE AIM All Share Index. As with others, a positive start for the portfolio in January was overwhelmed by the developing coronavirus crisis in February and March. However, our investment approach means we take a long-term view for our investments, so although short-term volatility can be concerning to our investors, we invest in companies that we believe will be sustainable and deliver returns over time.

There has been no change to how we manage the service and we continue to analyse companies through the prism of three factors – quality, growth and valuation. We also continue to invest new clients and remain confident that our model portfolio will hold up in the long term once we are through the short-term fluctuations.

We’re still here to help

We recognise that this is a challenging time for everyone. We are always available to take calls or respond to emails to discuss any concerns and answer questions you may have so please get in touch with our Business Development team on bd@pumainvestments.co.uk or 0207 408 4070 if you have any queries. Puma Investments would like to send our best wishes to our investors and their advisers during these difficult times.


 An investment with Puma Investments carries risks. Past performance is no indication of future results and share prices and their values can go down as well as up. Minimum returns are not guaranteed. An investment with Puma Investments can be viewed as high risk. Investors' capital may be at risk and investors may get back less than their original investment. Tax reliefs depend on individuals' personal circumstances, minimum holding periods and may be subject to change. Some investments should be regarded as illiquid and it may prove difficult for investors to realise immediately or in full the proceeds. Past performance is no indication of future results and share prices and their values can go down as well as up. Figures correct at 31 March 2020, source: Puma AIM IHT Service.