Unlocking captured equity, unleashing British enterprise
By Charlotte Argyle
One of the biggest challenges facing British privately owned companies is identifying and refreshing equity ownership. Many private companies are owner-managed with much of an individual’s wealth being locked up in the equity stake of these businesses. Captured and illiquid equity limits the growth potential for many British companies as disinterested owners are unable to easily liquidate their share holdings and to bring in new investors to drive forward corporate performance. Owner-managers have often mentioned privately how difficult it is to liquidate some of their equity stakes, and that they have needed to take out personal loans from banks to meet many of life’s individual challenges.
An extremely interesting new platform has been created to help British businesses solve this problem by allowing them to sell their equity stake without having to IPO. On Tuesday 19 November, I was privileged to attend the exclusive Liquity launch at Level39 in Canary Wharf.
Level39 is the premier European incubator and Fintech accelerator programme for Canary Wharf Group plc and the brainchild of Eric van der Kleij. Eric is the former Chief Executive of Tech City Investment Corporation and was tasked by David Cameron to create and drive the growth of the “Silicon Roundabout” in London modelled on Silicon Valley. Level39 has identified Liquity as a company with extraordinary growth potential that can revolutionise British businesses, bringing fresh funding and new ideas to ownership DNA, promoting continued growth for investor funds and businesses alike.
Liquity was created by the inspirational Barry Shrier, technology entrepreneur, advisor and campaigner, who understood how difficult it was for so many entrepreneurs and owner-managers to realise their investments. He was the founder and CEO, then Chairman of The Liberty Electric Cars group of companies, launching the world’s first zero-emission high performance SUV – eventually selling the company to Green Automotive in June 2012 for a stock market valuation $105M+.
With £300bn locked equity in privately-owned British businesses, Liquity was founded to unlock this capital and free up ownership to allow businesses to grow under a refreshed shareholder base. Barry highlighted that Britain has been on a journey from monolithic state-owned enterprises in the 1970s to a pro-entrepreneurial environment today. Liquity deepens British capital markets and complements crowd funding, VC/PE and public share markets.
This new platform has the potential to unleash a genuinely radical change to help British businesses. Many shareholders are unable to benefit from their wealth as it is tied up in locked capital. By shortening the length of time it takes for private owners to enjoy their investments, it can change how owners view their business from being a potential burden to being an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their hard work. Britain has not suffered from too much capitalism, private enterprise and innovation but a lack of capitalism, private enterprise and innovation. Liquity and Level39 are showing the way forward.