Monday 29th November 2021, 5.30pm – 9.30pm


5.30 pm Mello welcome
5.35 pm David Stredder interviews Rosemary Banyard, Fund Manager to VT Downing Unique Opportunities Fund
6.10 pm Company presentation by Headlam
6.50 pm Alan Charlton presents the latest from ScS
7.05 pm Company presentation by K3 Capital
7.45 pm Steve Clapham is Behind the Balance Sheet looking at the HUT Group
8.00 pm Company presentation by Kanabo
8.30 pm Mello BASH with Kevin Taylor, Damian Cannon and Chris Boxall covering James Latham, You GOV and Telecom Plus

David Stredder interviews Rosemary Banyard, Fund Manager to VT Downing Unique Opportunities Fund

Fund Manager Rosemary Banyard –  VT Downing Unique Opportunities Fund

Rosemary Banyard began her career with James Capel & Co where she was a senior investment analyst for 12 years before becoming a fund manager at AIB Govett. She rose to prominence and developed a reputation as one of the leading female fund managers in the UK after she joined Schroders in 1997. For almost 20 years she was known for running the acclaimed Schroder UK Smaller Companies Fund  with Andy Brough, and was for many years lead manager of the award-winning Schroder Mid Cap Fund PLC as well as heading up several other segregated UK equity mandates, managing total assets of circa £1 billion. 

In 2016 she joined Sanford DeLand to launch and manage the Free Spirit Fund. The Schroder UK Mid Cap trust returned 17%* p.a. while she was manager and in her two and a half years managing money at Sanford DeLand the Free Spirit Fund returned 31%**, placing it in the top decile of the IA UK All Companies sector. She joined Downing in March 2020 to launch the VT Downing Unique Opportunities Fund.

Rosemary has kindly answered your questions from the evening here:

Q: Is the fund run just with yourself or is there a team?

A: Currently I am the sole portfolio manager of the VT Downing Unique Opportunities Fund (DUO). It is my intention to recruit a second person (either an analyst or a fund manager) when the fund gets to a sufficient size to justify it. Meanwhile, I am supported by colleagues at Downing Fund Managers, specifically Judith Mackenzie on AIM stocks and Josh McCathie on Mid & Small Cap stocks, and there is a reasonable overlap of investments in both cases.

Q: What are Rosemary’s thoughts about James Fisher, the shipping and marine services company?

A: In my October 2021 Factsheet I discussed my decision to exit the holding in James Fisher and realise a capital loss. This investment falls into the category of “made a mistake” in my reasons to sell. It happens to us all. I am particularly concerned about the high level of debt and the publicly stated intention to try and sell assets to pay down this debt, which will likely generate sub-optimal returns.

Q: Comparing the fund to an investment company, how do you manage to buy in circumstances when you might also have to preserve cash (or even have to sell) for redemptions at the same time?

A: It is always a conundrum with open-ended funds that you can get redemptions at a time of maximum fear in the stock market, when buying opportunities abound. However, those who have tried to launch closed-ended funds in UK equities in recent times have found it difficult to impossible. I have a history over a couple of decades of managing funds with a cash buffer most of the time. While this may produce a slightly lower return than a fully invested fund, it dampens volatility, and enables me to take advantage of individual or general share price falls.

Q: Alfa Financial Software looks like a turnaround story. Isn’t it somewhat risky?

A: All investments in listed companies carry risks as well as the potential for rewards, so it is important to assess both, before and while investing. In the case of Alfa, it is a world leader in the provision of software to the leasing industry (e.g. automotive, aircraft, agricultural and office equipment). There are risks in its customer concentration, although this is reducing as they win new accounts. Its contracts are generally multi-year and large, so this can result in a lumpy order book and utilisation rate. There is also the general challenge seen in all software and IT services businesses of talent recruitment, retention and salary inflation. Mitigating these risks is net cash on the balance sheet, a rising element of recurring income from maintenance contracts and cloud services, majority ownership by the founders, and conservatism in forecasting, itself directly linked to a painful debut on the stock market a few years ago.

Q: 20% of the fund can be invested outside the UK. Has the fund invested overseas at all?

A: My background is entirely in the UK stock market so I stick to my knitting. However, many of the businesses in which I am invested have significant and growing international operations. Approaching half of the underlying revenues of the businesses in the portfolio are generated outside the UK.

Q: Where do we get the annual accounts from?

A: These are available on the Downing website under ‘essential reading’ at the bottom of the page:


Company Presentation – K3 Capital Group plc (LON:K3C)

K3 Capital Group plc is a multi-disciplinary and complementary professional services group. Operating from our Head Office in Bolton, Greater Manchester, the Group employs over 500 staff across 20 UK offices and 3 overseas offices. The Group listed on AIM in 2017 (AIM: K3C.L).  The services offered by the Group fit into three key operating divisions: M&A; Tax; Business Recovery.

Services provided by K3 M&A Advisory Group:

Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) – Company sales, brokerage and corporate finance services to SME’s looking to achieve full or partial exit. Strategic advisory and valuations, financial due diligence and debt advisory.

Services provided by K3 Tax Advisory Group:

  • Research & Development tax credit advisory: advising clients on Research and Development Tax Credit (RDTC) claims.
  • Tax investigations relating to tax fraud / tax avoidance / disclosures and code of practice 9 (COP9) related work.

Services provided by K3 Restructuring Advisory Group:

  • Restructuring advisory: formal insolvency appointments, informal restructuring advisory, personal insolvency and pension restructuring and insolvency advice.
  • Financial advisory: comprehensive analysis of business performance through business toolkit, independent reviews, stakeholder management and turnaround and interim support.
  • Creditor Services: creditor representation and liquidations.
  • Forensic accounting and expert witness: forensic investigations, intelligence and forensic accounting.

The Group’s medium-term strategy is to build a wider group of growing and complementary professional services businesses to provide SMEs with high quality advice across specialist disciplines.  Please visit: for more information.

John Rigby, Chief Executive Officer


John joined the Group in 2000 following a career in commercial and corporate banking. John has over 20 years of operational, sales and commercial management experience within the sector and developed the national sales infrastructure of the Group. John became Managing Director of the Group in 2010 and has been responsible for driving growth and is integral in the development of the low cost, process driven delivery platform.

Andrew Melbourne FCMA, Chief Financial Officer


Andrew joined the Group in 2012 following 10 years in various financial accounting roles across various industries including media, leisure and property management. Andrew possesses strong financial, strategy and commercial management skills including HR, IT and special projects. Andrew is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has an MSc in Strategic Financial Management.

Company Presentation – Headlam plc (LON:HEAD)

Headlam is Europe’s leading floorcoverings distributor, providing the channel between suppliers and trade customers of floorcoverings. Headlam works with suppliers across the globe manufacturing a diverse range of floorcovering products, and provides them with a cost efficient and effective route to market for their products into the highly fragmented customer base. Alongside long-established processing and distribution expertise, suppliers benefit from Headlam’s marketing and customer servicing into the most extensive customer base.

To maximise customer reach, Headlam operates 66 businesses across the UK and Continental Europe (France and the Netherlands). Each business operates under its own trade brand and utilises individual sales teams while being supported by the Company’s network and centralised resources.  The Company’s customer base covers both the residential and commercial sectors, with the principal customer groups being independent retailers and smaller flooring contractors alongside other groups such as larger retailers, housebuilders, specifiers, and local authorities.

Headlam is focused on providing customers with a market-leading service through:
• the broadest product offering;
• unrivalled product knowledge and tailored solutions;
• sales team and marketing support;
• e-commerce support; and
• nationwide delivery and collection service.

Chris Payne, CFO

Chris joined the Company as Chief Financial Officer in 2017. Previously he was at Biffa plc, the UK integrated waste management company, where he was Group Commercial Finance Director with responsibilities including overseeing all the operational finance teams and divisional Finance Directors. Prior to that, Chris held two divisional Finance Director positions at Mitie Group plc. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant having trained with KPMG and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Chris has broad operationally-based finance experience across a number of listed businesses. He chairs the Company’s Risk Committee, and as part of this remit has lead oversight of the identified risks relating to IT and change management amongst others.

Company Presentation – Kanabo plc (LON:KNB)

Avihu Tamir is a cannabis entrepreneur with seven years hands-on experience in multiple cannabis ventures and has vast experience in consulting for international cannabis projects. Avihu began his career and built his reputation as a senior strategy consultant at Accenture. He is also the founder of Teva Nature, the leading vaporizer company in Israel.

Avihu founded Kanabo Research in 2016 and since then has served as its CEO of the company. His expertise includes biotechnology, new agriculture and agro-tech, and other breakthrough technologies in the dynamic field of Medical Cannabis.

Avihu holds a B.A. in Finance and Risk Management (Magna Cum Laude), and a M.A. in Political Science (Magna Cum Laude) from the IDC Herzliya.

Avihu Tamir, CEO

Alan Charlton, Professional Private Investor, presents some Educational Insights

Alan Charlton, Professional Private Investor

I am a Full Time Professional Investor, having enjoyed a 30 year career working  the Retail Industry, and been a Director of many well know High Street names. I have been fortunate to work directly for some of the greatest Retailers of the last generation, including Lord Kirkham, Sir Philip Green (interesting experience!!) and Sir Stuart Rose. Fortunate to have learned from some of the very best.  I post occasionally on message boards as “Simso”…going right back to PaulyPiliots Pub and the old Motley Fool days! Current investment strategy is specifically focussed on stocks which benefit from the current environment.”

Steve Clapham is Behind the Balance sheet

Steve Clapham Behind the Balance Sheet

Stephen Clapham of investment research and training consultancy Behind the Balance Sheet will be here again with another instalment of his accounting red flags and investing tips series. In accounting red flags he will talk about comparing operating cash flow to earnings, and give some tips on adjustments to ensure you are comparing like with like. In the investing tips series, he will explain why supply is often a much better indicator to use than demand when evaluating the outlook for industry pricing.

Behind the Balance Sheet 

is an investment research consultancy which creates bespoke research for large institutional investors and produces training programmes for their analysts and portfolio managers. The firm was founded in 2012 by Steve Clapham, who has 30 years of experience analysing and investing in equities. He spent some 20 years as a rated sell-side equity analyst before becoming a partner of a multi billion hedge fund in London in 2005.

The Mello BASH (Buy, Avoid, Sell & Hold)

Kevin began his City career 27 years ago, training as an actuary with a focus on defined benefit pension schemes. In 1997 he moved over to Investment Banking and joined a structured finance team working on complex projects and debt finance for large corporates. During those 27 years of financial markets experience Kevin has been a keen small cap investor looking after his family’s portfolios and trading on both the long and the short side of markets. Kevin is one of the more sceptical member of our panel and likes to see proof that demonstrate management’s claims before investing in a management team.

Established in 2004 by Chris Boxall and Stephen Drabwell, Fundamental Asset Management is an independent, owner managed, investment management firm which has delivered outstanding investment performance through focusing on direct equity investment, notably in AIM.

Fundamental undertakes its own in-depth research, seeking out the best investment opportunities across UK and international stock markets.

The firm has an unrivalled knowledge of AIM and has successfully provided AIM for Inheritance Tax planning and General Portfolio Management to private investors, trusts and institutions for more than 17 years.

In support of direct equity investment, and with a notable focus on AIM, in 2006 Chris also established Investor’s Champion. This online investment magazine is jam-packed with high quality content covering companies, funds, economics and global events – all to help you make your money go further.

Investor’s Champion was setup to introduce readers to those lesser known, smaller quoted companies. Since then, the website’s regular blogs and research have uncovered some outstanding small company success stories (and helped its readers avoid numerous disasters).

Damian is a very successful private investor. Originally an astrophysicist, Damian entered the IT world in 1997 and progressed to developing internal business systems for a Fund of Hedge Funds in 2004 before joining Man Investments. This experience taught Damian much about risk and liquidity but constrained his personal investment activities. So, Damian left to join a software start-up, looking to modernise the corporate law sector, giving him the freedom to invest without restriction. Initially these investments focused on steady, high-yield shares but in recent years Damian has found success with a smaller, momentum driven strategy. Since 2018 Damian has publicly blogged the progress in his portfolio to create a trading journal of his actions and their consequences.


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