Formed in 2014, its founder cited a fraudulent client in France as the primary reason for the platform shutting up shop.
UK-based invoice financing platform Urica has been put into liquidation, according to a stock market update from one of its investors and as well as an email seen by AltFi.
Artemis fund managers, a UK asset manager with £29bn of assets under management, has written down its holding in invoice financing platform Urica to zero, it has said, in the Artemis Alpha investment trust, a ‘best ideas’ closed ended fund listed on the stock market.
Urica was one recipient, alongside Beechbrook Capital and MarketInvoice of £30m of government funding overseen by the then Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable back in 2013. Urica’s share was £10m which came from the small business tranche of the Business Finance Partnership (BFP). AltFi understands that the governmental money was repaid.
The Artemis managers said that the impairment is both “unexpected and disappointing” and it has resulted in a 2.2 per cent reduction in the fund’s net asset value (NAV) translating to a £3.8m hit.
Analysts at Numis Securities say that although there has been a write-down of 4 per cent in relation to the investment in 2018, “the company had immediate liquidity requirements due to potential liabilities from a one-off event in France, which we understand was a fraud in its invoice finance book, which led to a deterioration in the quality of URICA’s managed book of invoices”.
The managers of Artemis Alpha, it added, were unwilling to provide additional funding.
In a corresponce seen by AltFi from Lindsay Whitelaw, the founder of Urica who was also a partner Artemis at the time of its launch in 2014, said “that it is with deep regret that I announce we have had to appoint an interim liquidator from 20th July 2018.”
Whitelaw reiterated the fraud problem.
"The fund we manage suffered a large fraud in France at the beginning of the year and as a young business we have been desperately trying to recover from that event. Other financial institutions were also defrauded by the same client, but because we are relatively small and at a formative stage in development this has had a much greater impact on us,” he said.
“We have been trying to secure the necessary funding we required to keep trading but that unfortunately has not been successful,” he added.
Now in its sixth year, the AltFi London Summit returns on 18th March 2019 to 155 Bishopsgate. Last year proved to be a crucial turning point for the key players building the future of finance. Leading platforms launched oversubscribed IPOs, digital banks proliferated and mainstream financial institutions started their own disruptive propositions. With 2019 certain to be another landmark year, more questions will be asked by regulators with investor interest in disruption also poised for more rapid growth.