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Panoramic Views

After raising your first fund during the height of the financial crisis, everything else should be plain sailing. Marc Mullen speaks to Stephen Campbell and Malcolm Kpedekpo about the performance of the first Panoramic Growth Equity fund, and keeping their feet on terra firma when raising the next.

The best business lessons are the ones learnt through adversity, reckons Stephen Campbell, one of the co-founding partners of Panoramic Growth Equity, the Glasgow-based, but UK-wide, investor in fast-growing businesses. If that is the case, they learned a lot before they even got up and running.

Perhaps 2009 was not the easiest of years to be looking to raise a first-time fund. But after a year cold calling more than 500 potential investors, the first fund closed in March 2010, oversubscribed at £34m. Then on to the ‘simple’ task of investing. “We were going to market with a growth equity play, targeting the gap between mid-market private equity and angel money,” says Campbell. “We thought there was a gap where you could make good returns by investing regionally primarily, and in London if the opportunity came up. We wanted to develop a partner-led approach.”

The other two founding partners were David Wilson and Malcolm Kpedekpo, who first worked together in 2001, starting the growth equity team at the Bank of Scotland. Over the next seven years they invested (an average £2m) in 29 businesses for Bank of Scotland.

In 2007 Kpedekpo, originally from Aberdeen, had spent five years working in corporate finance in Australia. With his young family, he returned to the UK to see what opportunities there were. “Two weeks and two interviews later I was back in Scotland,” he says. “It certainly wasn’t for the weather.”

Glasgow is particularly grey the (summer) day I visit – dreechit in local parlance. But it is Glasgow where they set up Panoramic. Why? “Glasgow was more vibrant, and has more manufacturing. Edinburgh is very financial services-focused. There is also private equity with Scottish Equity Partners and Maven Capital based here.”

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