A London-based corporate intelligence specialist set up by former spies has launched an investment fund to support high-growth companies with the knowledge that it gathers from its network of contacts.
Hakluyt has set up a growth fund focusing on Silicon Valley start-ups as it seeks to provide strategic advice to a sector it feels is under-served by traditional consultancy businesses.
The Hakluyt Capital fund is close to finalising a fundraising of £50 million that it will invest in up to 25 firms seeking early funds and strategic advice on regulatory and political issues.
Hakluyt was founded in 1995 by former MI6 officers and is known for providing FTSE 100 companies and other clients with insights gathered from a network of senior contacts. Sir Oliver Robbins, formerly the UK’s lead Brexit negotiator, has joined as the head of corporate coverage for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the company’s advisory board counts Sir Douglas Flint, former HSBC chairman, and Niall FitzGerald, former Unilever chief executive, as members.
Varun Chandra, 38, Hakluyt’s managing partner, said he had been looking to access the “most exciting club in the world” after setting up a San Francisco office in December 2020, but he said fast-growth companies would not generally pay for consultancy advice and he needed to find a different way to build a relationship with founders.
He said: “We have an interesting client base, but they tend to be at the bigger end … It’s incredibly exciting to work with the most inspirational founders, building the most promising companies.”
Hakluyt’s accounts, to be filed at Companies House this week, will show that group revenue increased by 23 per cent to £104 million in the year ending June 30, 2022, with operating profit up by 28 per cent to £27.5 million. Chandra expects the company to keep growing in the year ahead but perhaps not at the same pace.
He added that Hakluyt Capital should benefit from the recent downturn in technology valuations, saying: “It is clear there has been a correction … across the board and all we can really do is speak to the very smartest people in the world … [It] feels like quite a good time to invest.”