04 March 2015

Dutch battery maker targeted by angels in February

2015 appears to be gradually winding up after a slow month in January in terms of European angel investment activity, according to data from Zephyr, the M&A database published by Bureau van Dijk. February looks to have drawn closer to angel investment levels such as those recorded in November 2014, which represents one of the highest points from the last few years. In fact, the EUR 101 million invested in November is the second-largest amount in a single month since the beginning of 2006, surpassed only by the EUR 133 million injected in May 2014. In February so far there have been 23 announced deals worth an aggregate EUR 93 million, up on January 2015 and December 2014 (EUR 40 million and EUR 61 million, respectively) in terms of value. Volume is lower than in previous months, suggesting higher individual considerations in February. The slightly reduced deal numbers could be attributable to the fact that at the time of writing there is still just over a week to go until the end of the month.

A wide range of values have been recorded across the deals announced in February, from a high of EUR 62 million to EUR 100,000, although there were also two transactions which did not have any disclosed financial details. The top deal in particular has had a significant impact on overall investment levels as the EUR 62 million injected represents a significant portion of the EUR 101 million invested over the month. That transaction was a round of funding by French glassware manufacturer Arc International, with participation from Peaked Hill Partners, the Ibled-Durand family and other undisclosed investors. As a consequence of the deal, which is still subject to closing conditions and is expected to complete by the end of March, the Ibled-Durand family will retain a 20.0 per cent share of the business and all of Arc International’s debts will be wiped out. The month’s second-largest angel investment was significantly smaller as UK cyber intelligence and protection services provider Digital Shadows secured EUR 7 million in a round led by Storm Ventures and also including Passion Capital Investment, TenEleven Ventures and certain angel investors such as former Netwitness technology chief Tim Belcher. The company said the funds will be used to open offices in the US.  

As usual, a few software companies were targeted by angels in the month under review, but there were also a number of less frequently glimpsed industries among the injections. One notable deal involved Netherlands-based STaR Engines, which develops portable battery chargers for electric vehicles. The company received EUR 2 million from Dutch angel investor Frans van Gils. The firm has developed Jerr-e, a portable battery charger intended to fill the same role as the jerry can for electric vehicles. The product is designed to address the high cost factors and lack of charging stations which often prevent drivers from switching to electric vehicles. Existing batteries are notorious for their lack of range and the fact that temperature changes and features like air conditioning, headlights and heating consume battery life at a quicker rate. STaR Engines believes Jerr-e will enable to drivers to simply pull up and charge their vehicle battery at any time. The firm said it will use proceeds of the funding round to build a demonstration model and to reinforce its existing operations.

Zephyr shows that only one other storage battery maker worldwide has secured angel investment since the beginning of 2006, although it has brought in three separate injections. UK fuel cell technology developer Bac2 initially secured a EUR 730,000 injection as part of a May 2006 seed round with the participation of London Seed Capital, London Business Angel Network and other undisclosed angels. The two named investors ploughed a further EUR 3 million into the business in another round in November 2007. Most recently Bac2 received EUR 1 million from London Business Angels in March 2010. Aside from these rounds the only angel investment recorded in the sector since the start of 2006 is the newly-announced STaR Engines injection.

In conclusion, after a quiet start 2015 seems to be gaining some traction as investment levels climb. Although February is unlikely to break any records, it is a step in the right direction after the usual wind down witnessed as a new year takes hold. Many will be optimistic that March can carry on in this vein and another increase will be posted month-on-month.

© Zephyr