Souter gives £109m to charity as investments pay off

Brian Souter

Stagecoach chairman Brian Souter said on Monday he will gift £109 million to charity after a strong performance by Souter Investments, his family investment firm.

Souter made the announcement as the firm issued its fourth triennial investment review covering the period from the formation of Souter Investments in December 2006 to March 2019.

Souter Investments makes investments across a broad range of asset classes with a primary focus on private equity and a portfolio of more than 25 direct unquoted investments (see below).

“Given the excellent performance of Souter Investments, I have today gifted 28% of its shares to The Souter Charitable Trust; I estimate that the value of this shareholding is £109m,” said the Stagecoach chairman.

“The Souter Charitable Trust has donated more than £98m to 13,000 worthwhile causes over the last 13 years and this gift will allow it to continue this important work.”

Souter Investments has invested more than £400 million in unquoted companies over the last 12 years with over £200 million invested in its current private equity portfolio.

The portfolio consists of around 25 businesses and the family office retains a 14% investment in Stagecoach.

A statement Souter Investments said: “It has been a busy period since Souter Investments released its previous Investment Review in 2016, with 10 new investments made in industries ranging from oil and gas services to financial services, business services, consumer and technology.  

“A similar number of exits of portfolio companies have also been achieved, including the sales of Alexander Dennis, Mobius Life and Baywater Healthcare.”

Brian Souter said: “Our total portfolio, excluding Stagecoach, increased in value by 9% per annum over the 12 years ended March 2019.

“This compares against a 5% annual return on UK quoted equities over the same period.

“Although this does not sound like much of a difference, the compounding effect means that the value of our portfolio is 55% higher than it would be if we invested solely in the UK stock market.

“Despite the uncertain political and economic times facing us all, our portfolio is in good shape and Souter Investments has the liquidity to continue investing through the cycle. 

“I remain positive in the ability for canny investors to find value in the coming years and hopefully Souter Investments can continue to be one of those investors.”

Souter Investments managing director Andy Macfie said: “We are very pleased with the 9% annualised return over the twelve-year period and are particularly pleased with the 18% annualised return achieved on our direct unquoted portfolio.

“A pivot to this asset class was one of the central planks of our investment strategy when we setup Souter Investments in 2007. 

“We continue to stay true to our investment objectives of maintaining an opportunistic approach and targeting a diversified portfolio.

“Unquoted investments remain our core focus, where we can lead deals or coinvest with others.

“Following the disposals mentioned by Sir Brian, we have more cash and liquid assets than ever before.

“So if you have an opportunity you think may be of interest to us, please don’t hesitate to contact the team here at Souter Investments.”

The Souter Investments portfolio is shown below —