Founded in 2013, Forward Partners is a well-established and respected London-based venture capital firm, specialising in supporting high growth, early-stage technology businesses.
The Group brings together venture capital provider Forward Ventures, equity-free revenue-based financing through Forward Advances and highly specialised growth support from Forward Studio. This model supports founders to build stronger businesses and meet strategic goals faster – ultimately aiming to provide better outcomes for companies and investors alike.
The Group has made 65 unique equity investments in early-stage, high growth UK companies (including Forward Advances), and has built a portfolio that has an Initial Portfolio NAV of c.£103.0 million as of 31 March 2021*. It holds an eight-year track record of making venture capital investments, with a Gross IRR of 25.4% over that period to 31 March 2021 . The management team brings together highly experienced venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and expert consultants. Since 2015, Forward Partners has been backed by BlackRock, one of the largest institutional investors in the world.
The Directors believe that the Forward Partners value-add offering, in addition to its core investment capital operation, provides the Group’s competitive advantage by:
- enhancing the attractiveness of the Group as an investment partner to businesses seeking funding;
- providing Shareholders with a new route to NAV growth through revenue-based lending, by opening access to a market of early-stage digital businesses less suited to traditional borrowing;
- and enabling the Group to deliver higher returns to Shareholders, by providing portfolio businesses with specialist support and guidance from Forward Studio so to maximise their growth potential.
The Directors believe that no other venture capital firm currently provides this combination of flexible, equity-based and equity-free funding options alongside strategic and executional support.
*The value includes all cashflows for the Group including any investments realised (sold or companies which have dissolved due to a cessation of trading). Excluding realisations to date the Gross IRR would be 28%.
Country of incorporation and operations
Country of incorporation : United Kingdom (England and Wales company registration number : 13244370)
Main country of operation : United Kingdom
Articles of Association
Details of restrictions on the transfer of securities
There are no restrictions on the transfer of ordinary shares.
Details of any other exchanges
The securities of the Company are traded on the AIM market operated by the London Stock Exchange plc. Its shares have not been admitted, nor have any applications been made, for any of its shares to be admitted or traded on any other exchanges or trading platform.
UK takeover code applicability
The UK City Code on Takeovers and Mergers applies to the Company.
AIM securities in issue : 36,500,000*
The percentage of AIM securities not in public hands at admission was 82.9%*
*last updated 19.07.2021
BlackRock - 70.39%*
Neil Hutchinson - 6.87%*
Forward Internet Group - 4.93%*
Hargreave Hale - 3.94%*
*last updated 19.07.2021
Our Board of Directors
Non-executive Chairman: Jonathan McKay
Jonathan has over 30 years of experience in managing and mentoring fast growth tech companies. He has a background in telecom infrastructure and has experience of scaling businesses in the UK and internationally. Earlier in his career, Jonathan was the Vice President and General Manager of Sun Microsystems’ software Tools and Integration business unit in San Francisco. He joined Sun Microsystems following their acquisition of Forte, where he held COO and CMO roles. As an executive and non-executive chairman, Jonathan has worked on several large M&A deals, including ISG’s sale to Allvotec and Just Giving’s sale to Blackbaud. Jonathan is currently the Chairman of La Fosse Associates (a technology recruitment company), Driftrock (lead generation for consumer- facing corporates) and Poq (a leading UK SaaS based App platform).
Independent Non-executive Director: Susanne Given
Susanne is an experienced executive with a track-record of delivering sustained performance improvements in medium and large-scale businesses, both in the private and listed company spheres. Susanne has a background in the consumer spectrum, having held executive roles at Harrods, John Lewis and SuperDry. Susanne is currently the Chairwoman of online furniture retailer Made.com and women’s clothing retailer Hush Homewear. Susanne also has experience in the UK public company arena as a non-executive director at Tritax BB REIT plc, where she chairs the management engagement committee and sits on the audit and risk committee, and Morrisons (WM) Supermarkets plc, where she sits on the audit, nomination, remuneration and corporate compliance and responsibility committees. Internationally, Susanne is a non-executive director of Trent Limited, the retail arm of Tata Group listed on the National Stock Exchange of India, and the Middle East luxury retailer Al Tayer Insignia where she is also chair of the remuneration committee. Susanne’s previous non-executive directorships include at Deloitte NSE and Eurostar.
Independent Non-executive Director: Christopher Smith
Christopher has extensive corporate finance and public markets experience in a career covering 35 years in Equities and Investment Banking, most recently as a Vice Chairman at UBS Limited, which he joined in 1992 as SG Warburg. He began his banking career in 1985 in equity sales, moving over to corporate finance in 1999. From 2006 he ran the UK, Ireland and South African Equity Capital Markets business at UBS and has advised many company boards and the UK Government on a variety of major transactions. His wide-ranging experience includes capital-raising, stake sales, flotations and the market and shareholder element of public M&A transactions as well as giving strategic and general corporate finance advice.
Executive Director: Nic Brisbourne
Nic is the founder and CEO of Forward Partners. He has worked in venture capital in London and Silicon Valley for over 20 years. Prior to founding Forward in 2013, he was a founding Partner at leading venture capital firm Draper Esprit. Before entering the venture capital industry he worked as a strategy consultant for Gemini Consulting and at London based startup Operis Group plc.
Executive Director: Matt Bradley
Matt has six years’ experience as an entrepreneur and venture capital investor and has been a director of a number of small UK companies. Matt began his career at Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays Capital before earning an MBA at SDA Bocconi and joining Forward Partners in August 2014. Matt heads up the Investment Team at Forward Partners and splits his time between sourcing investments and working across the portfolio. Since joining the Company, Matt has acted as a board director or observer on a number of portfolio companies in order to monitor investment performance, challenge the executive directors of and report back to the senior management of the Company on the investment.
As CFO, Matthew’s role encompasses both finance functions, active management of the Group’s portfolio of investments and consideration of new investment opportunities. To reflect the developing needs of the Group as it grows it is anticipated that, within six to nine months of Admission, the Group will seek to appoint a new, permanent CFO to the Board.
The investment objective of the Group is to generate net asset growth for Shareholders through investing in, providing financing to and cultivating development of early-stage high-growth potential digital businesses.
The Group will seek to achieve its investment objective through investing in UK-based pre-seed and seed stage businesses which show strong growth potential and offer attractive risk weighted returns. Forward Ventures will typically seek to secure a significant minority stake in its investee businesses, while also maintaining an appropriate level of diversification within the portfolio with the majority of investments typically comprising under 10 per cent. of NAV.
Forward Partners will seek investments in digital businesses utilising eCommerce, marketplace and applied AI operating models, but will also consider investment opportunities outside its core focus which offer significant return potential and in which the Directors have the necessary expertise and experience to be able to identify and manage the opportunity.
Form of investment
Investments in early-stage businesses are expected to be in the form of equity, however, investments may also be by way of debt, convertible securities or investments in specific projects. The Directors intend to take positions in unquoted companies, with suitable minority protection rights where appropriate and pre-emption rights in respect of follow-on funding. The Group frequently takes board positions at portfolio companies, depending on the profile and needs of the individual portfolio company with a view to maximising chances of success and to maintain operational efficiency for the Group.
It is envisaged that the Group will make initial investments of between £200,000 and £2 million. The same amount or more will then be made in follow-on investments into the portfolio companies that the Directors believe are the most promising.
In order to maximise the value of an investment, the Directors expect that investments will be held for at least five years, however, the Company may dispose of investments outside this timeframe if an appropriate opportunity arises. In the event that there are suitable investment opportunities available at the relevant time, the Directors intend to re-invest the proceeds of disposals in accordance with the Group’s Investing Policy. In the event that the Directors believe that there are no suitable investment opportunities available, the Directors will consider returning the proceeds to Shareholders in a tax efficient manner.
The Group does not currently utilise borrowings. It does however, intend to enhance shareholder returns over the long term by using debt to finance a portion of the Forward Advances loan book and has recently secured a £5 million revolving debt facility from Triple Point Advancr Leasing plc with a term of three years.
Cash held by the Group pending investment in accordance with the Investing Policy will be managed by the Group in accordance with the Group’s treasury policy and placed in bank deposits with major global financial institutions, in order to protect the capital value of the Group’s cash assets. The Directors currently intend to maintain the Fund I and Fund II structure for the purposes of holding investments following Admission.
Nominated Adviser and Sole Broker
Liberum Capital Limited, 25 Ropemaker St, London EC2Y 9LY
Legal Advisers to the Company
Gowling WLG (UK) LLP 4 More London Riverside London, SE1 2AU
Reporting Accountants and Auditors
Grant Thornton UK LLP, 30 Finsbury Square, London, EC2A 1AG
Equiniti Limited, Aspect House, Spencer Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN99 6DA.
Financial Public Relations
The Maitland Consultancy Limited, 3 Pancras Square, London, N1C 4AG
The Board has established an Audit and Valuation Committee and a Remuneration and Nominations Committee, with formally delegated duties and responsibilities as described below.
Audit and Valuation Committee
The Audit and Valuation Committee will have the primary responsibility of monitoring the quality of internal controls to ensure that the financial performance of the Company is properly measured and reported on. It will receive and review reports from the Company’s external auditors relating to the interim and annual accounts and the accounting and internal control systems in use within the Company. The Audit and Valuation Committee will meet not less than three times in each financial year and will have unrestricted access to the Company’s external auditors. The terms of reference of the Audit and Valuation Committee require that the members of the Audit and Valuation Committee shall include only independent non-executive Directors and one member, preferably the chair of the Audit and Valuation Committee, shall have recent and relevant financial experience with competence in accounting and auditing.
The Audit and Valuation Committee will initially comprise Susanne Given and Christopher Smith, with Susanne Given acting as chair.
Remuneration and Nominations Committee
The Remuneration and Nominations Committee will review the performance of the Directors and make recommendations to the Board on matters relating to their remuneration and terms of service. The Remuneration and Nominations Committee will make recommendations to the Board on proposals for the granting of share options and other equity incentives pursuant to any employee share option scheme or equity incentive plans in operation from time to time. The Remuneration and Nominations will review the composition and efficacy of the Board and where appropriate recommend nominees as new directors to the Board.
The members of the Remuneration and Nominations Committee shall include only independent non-executive Directors. The Remuneration and Nominations Committee will initially comprise Susanne Given and Christopher Smith, with Christopher Smith acting as chair.
Corporate governance structures
Forward Partners Group plc (the "Company") is committed to maintaining the highest standards of corporate governance throughout its operations and to ensuring that all of its practices are conducted transparently, ethically and efficiently. The Company believes that scrutinising all aspects of its business and reflecting, analysing and improving its procedures will result in the continued success of the Company and improve shareholder value. Therefore, [and in compliance with the updated AIM Rules for Companies,] the Company has chosen to formalise its governance policies by complying with the UK's Quoted Companies Alliance Corporate Governance Guidelines for Small and Mid-Size Quoted Companies (the "QCA Code").
This page was last updated on the 19th July 2021.