Month: July 2013

Smedvig Capital backs second ABS, Kings Court Trust

By Jordan Mayo

Smedvig Capital, the London-based venture capital firm has invested £4m of growth capital into Kings Court Trust, a pioneer in the rapidly-changing legal services market and one of the leading specialist probate and estate administration firms in the UK.

The investment follows the deregulation of the UK legal services market in April 2012 dubbed “Tesco Law”, which for the first time allows non-lawyers to own or invest in law firms via Alternative Business Structures (ABS). There has been considerable interest in how the legal market will develop, and speculation about a wave of investment from private equity firms and the emergence of new consumer legal brands. ABSs are encouraging innovation in the sector, paving the way for new entrants, greater competition and consumer choice.

Kings Court Trust is a specialist provider of probate and estate administration services. It deals with every aspect of probate from closing bank accounts to selling property to setting up trusts. The business also assists other probate providers with complex parts of the process, such as identifying and tracing missing beneficiaries and repatriating foreign assets.

Each year in the UK, 250,000 families need to go through probate. Historically consumers have reported high levels of dissatisfaction with the traditional process. It is a complex and unfamiliar process and families are often concerned with the considerable costs, opaque prices and unnecessary delays to distributing estates. Kings Court Trust’s objective is to make probate and estate administration simpler and more transparent for consumers by staying in regular contact with families throughout the process and offering fixed prices. It also provides customers with access to an online system for monitoring the progress of their cases. The business has invested heavily in systems and processes which allow it to complete cases, and thereby distribute estate assets, more quickly.

The investment in Kings Court Trust is Smedvig Capital’s second investment in the legal services field. In 2005, Smedvig backed myhomemove, a specialist conveyancing provider which has since grown its market share six fold and has become the clear market leader. myhomemove has also achieved industry-leading customer satisfaction results with 93% of customers saying they would recommend the service. Smedvig Capital will continue to seek opportunities to invest in the legal services market in the years ahead.

Johnny Hewett, CEO at Smedvig Capital, said, “We have been actively working to identify specialist legal services firms with substantial growth potential. Our starting point is always to back strong teams who put customer service at the heart of what they do and when we started looking at the probate market, Kings Court Trust immediately stood out. We are very pleased to be working with Tom and his team and making our second investment in this market. We are excited to be providing the financial and strategic support to help the business invest heavily for growth in the next few years.”

Tom Curran, CEO at Kings Court Trust commented, “At Kings Court Trust, we seek to put the family first and are constantly looking for ways in which we can help them through a difficult time. We want to work with partners who share these values and this was critical when choosing an investor with whom to work. We believe the probate market is going to change dramatically in the next few years and Smedvig’s experience in building innovative legal businesses should stand us in very good stead. We are looking forward to working closely with the Smedvig team on the exciting next phase of development for the business.”

Tom Goddard on the role of the Chair in a VC-backed business

Smedvig Capital is delighted to support Directorbank on a video series that explores the role of the Chairman in a venture capital backed business. Directorbank has worked with Smedvig Capital on the appointment of a number of high-calibre Chairmen and NEDs through both pre-deal and portfolio management stages.

In the last of a 3-part video series we hear from Tom Goddard who speaks about his experience in the outdoor advertising industry.

Click here to view video – Tom Goddard

Until 2007 Tom was CEO of the International Division at CBS Outdoor. Prior to this, he worked at several major UK and International Out of Home Media companies including Viacom, Metro Advertising and Maiden Outdoor. He was appointed as Chairman of Ocean Outdoor in 2009 during Smedvig Capital’s investment in the business. Ocean Outdoor is the UK leader and innovator in spectacular and iconic out of home advertising sites and was sold to LDC in May 2012. Tom is also currently Executive Deputy Chairman at AMScreen Ltd, Executive Chairman at Digicom Out of Home Digital Media Ltd, and Chairman of Marketing Force and Bravo Outdoor.

The video series aims to provide an informative overview of VC chair best practice and we hope you find it interesting.