Venture capital partnerships reform by Sarah Bartholomeusz
Venture Capital Partnerships are an instrumental source of funding, particularly for smaller start-ups without access to capital markets writes Sarah Bartholomeusz.
V enture Capital Partnerships are investment vehicles that provide tax breaks for investments in highly innovative and fledgling start-ups, making them valuable drivers of innovation within Australia.
They are however somewhat limited by regulatory barriers and eligibility requirements making it difficult for investors and managers to engage in a broader range of activities.
Following last year’s Senate Economics References Committee, the Government released an Innovation Statement outlining several significant initiatives with a view to creating a long term strategic framework to support innovation in Australia.
One of these initiatives includes new arrangements for Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (VCLP) with a special focus on Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (ESVCLP).
From 1 July 2016, new ESVCLPs will be entitled to a 10% non-refundable tax offset on capital invested during the financial year. The maximum fund size will also be increased from $100 million to $200 million. Additionally, ESVCLPs will not have to divest of an investment once the investee’s value exceeds $250 million, instead allowing for a proportional tax concession once that value is exceeded.
Further changes to both Venture Capital programmes include relaxing eligibility and investment requirements.
Investee entities will now be able to acquire new businesses as ‘boltons’ enabling them to expand their investment activities. ESCVLPs and VCLPs will also be allowed to invest in a holding company which has existing interests in multiple subsidiaries.
Regulatory restrictions will be removed to make it easier for ESVCLPs and VCLPs to access funding from managed investment trusts. Activities by managed investment trusts will still be subject to appro- priate integrity measures but it is hoped that the new provisions will encourage them to participate in the venture capital market.
One of the barriers identified by the Committee were the existing restrictions for foreign venture capital funds that prevent them from holding more than 30% capital. The new legislation will remove these restrictions for eligible foreign investors making VCLPS internationally competitive and attracting greater levels of venture capital investment.
These new changes to the legislation are expected to take effect from the new financial year.
Sarah is the founder of You Legal. She has an active practice in corporate and commercial law, giving peace of mind to growing businesses at all stages of their lifecycle. She has over 10 years of experience as a lawyer including providing complex, high level legal & corporate governance support to ASX listed companies.
Sarah Bartholomeusz is the founder of You Legal.