Prelude makes further investment in UK display company

Prelude Trust, a UK quoted investment trust, has invested alongside QinetiQ Ventures, The Dow Chemical Company and TTP Ventures in a new financing round for ZBD Displays, which has raised almost £15m since 2001.

Prelude Trust, a quoted investment trust capitalised at approximately £46 million (€68 million) and managed by Esprit Capital Partners, has invested in a £2.86 million funding round for ZBD Displays, a UK liquid crystal display (LCD) manufacturer.

Prelude Trust invested £640,000 in the latest financing, alongside existing investors QinetiQ Ventures, The Dow Chemical Company and TTP Ventures. Following the transaction, Prelude owns 33 percent of ZBD Displays.

Hook: possible float of ZBD in next two years

Established in July 2000, Windsor-based ZBD Displays was the first spin-out from QinetiQ, a UK defence research laboratory owned by the Ministry of Defence and The Carlyle Group which floated with a market capitalisation of £1.296 billion in February. ZBD Displays develops displays which only require power to update content to retail stores and supermarkets, including Tesco.

Prelude Trust, Dow Chemical Ventures and TTP Ventures invested in ZBD Displays’ original £1.5 million funding round in mid-2001. ZBD Displays has raised over £14.9 million to date from several financings, of which Prelude Trust has contributed £5.6 million.

Bob Hook, partner at Esprit Capital Partners, said that ZBD Displays is “a good floatable proposition and, as a business, it’s pretty easy to understand. The company is working with major stores in the UK at this stage but it’s clearly a global opportunity”.

Hook said that while a sale of ZBD Displays was possible, the likely option would be to float the business within the next two years, most likely on AIM.

Esprit Capital Partners was formed from the spin-out of Cazenove Private Equity from Cazenove Capital Management and subsequent merger with Prelude Ventures earlier this year. Since the merger, new investments have included security technology company BlackSpider Technologies and network graphics semiconductor business Newnham.