Background

With its origins in technology investing, Foresight's broad and growing fund management activities now encompass investing in the private equity, infrastructure and environmental sectors in the UK, USA, Southern Europe and Australia.

Founded in 1984 by the present Chairman, Bernard Fairman, and fellow partner Peter English, Foresight raised a £20 million venture capital fund sponsored by Robert Fleming. The fund invested in unquoted technology companies in the UK, Europe and USA and ultimately distributed a 4x cash return to investors. Building on this success, in 1997 Foresight raised one of the first Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs), which as Foresight VCT plc still remains one of the best performing VCTs ever launched.* Foresight has since raised several more VCTs and taken over the management of others and is now one of the largest VCT managers in the UK, managing over £250 million through five VCTs. These funds invest in a broad range of sectors and transaction types and include some of the best performing of their respective vintages.

Having recognised the investment potential in the renewable energy and recycling sectors at an early stage, Foresight monitored developments and in 2006 started investing in the environmental sector in the UK. With growing support from UK and European legislation and increasing public awareness, Foresight has since raised a number of dedicated environmental funds. In 2007, Foresight raised and launched the Sustainable UK Investments Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Fund, while in 2011, Foresight Environmental Fund (FEF) raised £60 million from UK and international institutional investors, including the London Green Fund in part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWaRB) to invest in renewable energy and recycling projects in the London area. In April 2012, Foresight was appointed by UK Green Investments, a team within the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), now the Green Investment Bank (GIB), to manage £50 million (subsequently increased to £78 million) of an initial £80 million investment fund set aside by UK Government to invest in green infrastructure and in 2015, a further £50 million set aside to invest in smaller scale (sub £30 million) recycling and waste projects.

With growing knowledge and experience of the renewable energy sector, in 2009 €35m was raised from private individuals for the Foresight European Solar Fund, which made its first investment in the solar infrastructure sector in Spain. The European solar markets have since grown rapidly and Foresight established an office in Rome through which a number of joint ventures and managed accounts have been established with major European institutional investors to develop new and acquire existing solar plants in southern Europe. Since 2011, Foresight has successfully raised some £543 million through Foresight Solar VCT, Foresight Solar EIS funds 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 and the successful IPO and subsequent initial placing of Foresight Solar Fund Limited for investment in UK solar infrastructure.

In the UK, the infrastructure team has broadened its activities beyond solar to include investment in other infrastructure, such as acquiring contracts under the Private Finance Initiative and energy efficiency projects. In 2011, Foresight launched its innovative Infrastructure VCT shares class, which raised £33 million from private investors, and has subsequently invested in eight PFI projects comprising 13 schools and four heathcare projects across the UK.

* Tax Efficient Review