Howard Kennedy, Martineau lead the way in venture capital trusts

Howard Kennedy and Martineau Johnson were the most active venture capital trust advisers during the 2006-07 tax year, each acting on six of the industry’s 26 fundraisings.

While the vehicles advised by Martineau collectively attracted £44.3m of a sought £79.7m, the Howard Kennedy-advised products raised £76.6m of a sought £130.4m.

Howard Kennedy head of listed transactions Keith Lassman said that, since the vehicles were introduced in 2005, the firm has worked on more than 40 venture capital trust fundings, in many cases acting as both sponsor and legal adviser.

He added that it is unusual for law firms to act as sponsor, a role more generally assumed by investment banks. Registered with the Financial Services Authority, sponsors effectively work as referees for firms seeking listings, carrying out work to show the UK Listing Authority whether the management team has suitable expertise and the company sufficient capital to list.

While funds raised within venture capital trusts fell significantly during the last tax year, from around £800m during the 2005-06 period to £250m in 2006-07, Lassman said the market remains buoyant with an increased investor appetite for the vehicles.

Other firms that advise on venture capital trust fundraisings include Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, Norton Rose and SJ Berwin, which acted on one product apiece last year.