Braveheart has yet another acquisition in its sights

INVESTMENT group Braveheart said it is close to making another acquisition after its expansion into Yorkshire a year ago.

The Scottish firm, which invests in young, emerging, unlisted companies, bought Yorkshire investment firm Inkopo a year ago in a deal worth up to 1.31m, renaming it Viking Fund Managers.

Braveheart said it is at heads of terms stage on an acquisition, which, subject to positive due diligence, it hopes to complete soon.

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The group said its pre-tax losses in the year to the end of March fell 39 per cent to 767,000. It made a net 316,000 gain on its portfolio investments, compared with a 278,000 loss a year ago. Chairman Garry Watson said Braveheart survived "hostile" market conditions last year.

"We have kept our heads down, worked assiduously with our portfolio companies and taken further steps to implement our strategy of extending the base of our investment business."

But Mr Watson said despite seeing early signs of recovery between January and March, the group anticipates "recovery will be fragile, particularly as the sovereign debt problems of the European market are played out".

Braveheart has stakes in 27 portfolio companies. It hopes the acquisition of Inkopo, which has formal ties to Leeds Metropolitan University, will give it access to the region's growing science and technology sector.

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It hopes soon to roll out Inkopo Consulting, which will support Viking portfolio companies with consultancy advice, as well as working with publicly-funded bodies and regeneration organisations.

The group said it funded 12 companies through the year, but closed down some weaker companies.

"Inevitably, the lemons ripen before the pears and this means that losses are shown before gains materialise," said chief executive Geoffrey Thomson.

"After three years, our portfolio is maturing in line with expectation and we expect that, subject to the market being receptive, we will be realising a number of investments over the next two years and that shareholders will be pleased with the results."