Venture firms call for wider CGT relief

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THE ROLLOVER relief from capital gains tax granted to 'serial' entrepreneurs in the Budget, while warmly welcomed by the British Venture Capital Association, has missed the mark for some.

David Morgan sold his food distribution business Foodcall last June and has since been searching for unquoted small companies in which to reinvest. He believes the new rules should not exclude businesses sold recently, where the CGT has not yet been paid or could still be clawed back.

'The point of the measure is to encourage reinvestment,' he said. 'There must be lots of people out there who have sold businesses and could come back in now and invest in small firms and create jobs.' Mr Lamont's measures apply only to disposals made on or after Budget day.

Mr Morgan also pointed out that he sold the assets of his business rather than shares, because of the rollover relief available on reinvestment in certain asset-backed businesses. Again, Mr Lamont's measures relate specifically to shares in unquoted trading companies.

Even if the Budget changes come too late for him this time around, Mr Morgan said they were good news for the future. Owners of small companies would no longer hang on until retirement but would sell when they wanted.

Mark Fisher, another 'serial' entrepreneur, now temporarily retired, who has made two investments through Lucius Cary's Venture Capital Report, said the changes made sense as most people would reinvest the proceeds. 'It is much better that entrepreneurs have continued use of the money rather than the Government bleeding off the seedcorn,' he said.

Andrew Joy, the chairman of the BVCA's taxation committee, added: 'Creating a pool of capital belonging to successful proven managers keen to pass on both financial skills and business acumen to other small companies will stimulate activity at a vital time and in a crucial sector of the UK's economy.'