David Smith, Head of Business and Enterprise, Martyn Riley, Programme Manager, and Susan Berdo were in attendance for this item.
1. Mr Murphy introduced the proposed key decision and Mr Robey gave an overview to the background of the decision and highlighted key points.
2. Mr Smith introduced the report and said the proposal to transfer ownership of current investments into a London stock exchange listed investment trust company did not include a further eight investments which the Council had made outside of the proposed fund framework. Mr Smith said the key decision would not be triggered until there was the correct commercial situation, and legal and tax advice supporting the decision had been taken.
3. Mr Smith and Mr Robey responded to the following questions and comments from Members:
(a) Asked about the equity investment fund and specific investment in green energy, Mr Smith said the investment strategy looked at a variety of criteria and checks and in the past 10 years there had been several proposals from the low carbon sector. Mr Robey said a balanced approach was required with environmental considerations being part of the appraisal of any investment.
(b) A Member commented that the success of the fund depended on who was managing it and their choice of investments. Mr Smith said the proposed decision would provide companies with access to a significant amount of additional resource which the Council would otherwise not be able to provide. Mr Smith said the proposed decision included the option to sell the shares and therefore mitigate some risks such as funding being invested in companies outside of Kent. Mr Robey highlighted that the Council’s role was to support businesses to reach a certain level, and the proposed investment trust fund would provide access to more funding to enable further growth.
RESOLVED that the proposed decision to delegate the authority to the Director of Growth and Communities:
1. To enter into the relevant contracts and legal agreements required to implement this decision allowing KCC to sell shares in unlisted companies within the Discovery Park Technology Investment Fund (DPTI) and the Kent Life Science Fund (KLS) in exchange for shares in a new listed Investment Trust company, only when market conditions are favourable and KCC has reviewed the Listing and Prospectus documents.
2. To enter into the relevant contracts and legal agreements required to close the DPTI and the KLS.
3. To ensure that the proceeds from the sale of KCC shares in the new listed Investment Company will be re-invested in local companies via the Kent and Medway Business Fund (KMBF).
Ms Jackie Meade asked for her abstention to be noted in the minutes.