Is Bentley Global (UK) Ltd on the brink of going into administration?

  1. Bentley Global (UK) Ltd (“BG”) is yet another issuer of high-risk speculative mini-bonds.
  2. Neither BG or linked company Bentley Intelligence Ltd (“BI”) is authorised or regulated by the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
  3. What are speculative mini-bonds? The FCA says on its website: “Firms issue speculative mini-bonds to raise money from investors to lend to a third party or invest in other companies or property. These investments offer high rates of return but are usually very risky.”
  4. On 13 October 2020, BI published a video on YouTube entitled “CEO talks about our Algorithm and The Bond”: The firm also promotes its video on Twitter via a same-day pinned tweet (screen shot in Figure 1).
Figure 1. Bentley Intelligence Ltd pinned tweet dated 13 October 2020
  1. Alan Bentley, chief executive of both BI and BG, says in the video he wants to raise £10m via issuance of speculative mini-bonds (screen shot in Figure 2).
Figure 2. Bentley Global (UK) Ltd bonds: YouTube video dated 13 October 2020
  1. Mr Bentley tells viewers his unregulated bond pays: 12% per annum for investment up to £50k; 16% per annum for investment between £50k and £100k; and 20% per annum for investment over £100k. All interest is paid monthly over the term of the loan. Very high rates of return, then – so high they sound too good to be true.
  2. The video would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Spouting irrelevant nonsense, Mr Bentley is incredibly vague on the basis of his opaque “algorithm-based football fund”.
  3. Also in the video and equally hazy on details are Angus “Statto” Loughran, the sports commentator, and Peter Reid, the former England footballer and Premier League manager. Both appear on the BG website, too (screen shot in Figure 3).
Figure 3. The team: Bentley Global (UK) Ltd website at 18 February 2021
  1. On 1 January 2021, the FCA permanently banned promotion of high-risk speculative mini-bonds to most retail consumers. Previously, the ban was temporary, applying from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020. Therefore, at both date of publication of the video and date of this post the video appears to be in breach of the FCA ban.
Figure 4. Financial promotion approved by Blue Water Capital Ltd: start of YouTube video dated 13 October 2020
  1. Then there’s another problem with the financial promotion. At the start of the video a message is displayed: “This video has been approved as a financial promotion by Blue Water Capital Ltd (FCA No: 789335)” (screen shot in Figure 4). The same message is shown at the end, too (screen shot in Figure 5). Further, Mr Bentley himself says in the video that Blue Water Capital Ltd (“BWC”) approves his firm’s financial promotions, including the video.
Figure 5. Financial promotion approved by Blue Water Capital Ltd: end of YouTube video dated 13 October 2020
  1. Yes, BWC is an FCA-authorised firm. Nevertheless the City watchdog slapped a requirement on the firm as of 26 November 2019 (see 5 January 2021 post). The FCA financial services public register states: “BWC must not communicate, or approve the content of, any financial promotion which is to be made to, or directed at, retail clients and elective professional clients. BWC must withdraw its approval of any existing financial promotions.”
  2. What’s more, the long-term future of BG is unclear. (Like its “Algol88” trading algorithm, then.)
  3. All is well, according to the latest accounts for BG, made up to 31 August 2019. There the “going concern disclosure” says: “The directors have not identified any material uncertainties related to events or conditions that may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” The accounts, unaudited, were signed off on 31 January 2021, and filed on 1 February 2021.
  4. Meanwhile, I discovered a form on the BWC website entitled “Investor Preference – Bentley Global (UK) Ltd” (screen shot in Figure 6). The form is addressed to BG bondholders, where BWC is security trustee. There BWC refers to its email dated 3 February 20201 [sic] to BG bondholders. Presumably the year should be 2021. BG, it seems, is on the brink of going into administration. If so, this would appear to contradict the “going concern disclosure” in the latest accounts.
Figure 6. “Investor Preference – Bentley Global (UK) Ltd”: Blue Water Capital Ltd website at 18 February 2021
  1. When asked for comment, BWC owner and sole director Henry Porter said in an email: “Bluewater Capital’s (‘BWC’) financial promotion approval for Bentley Global (UK) LTD was withdrawn 24th September 2018. The existence of the shared link [YouTube video] – believed to be redundant – has been forwarded to the issuer to be disabled/removed.”
  2. Mr Porter continued: “In regards to Bentley Global (UK) Ltd’s disclosure and any consultation with investors, I am sure you can appreciate it is not for BWC to comment, however we have forwarded your inquiry to Bentley Global (UK) Ltd.”
  3. What Mr Porter didn’t say is he also quickly removed the “Investor Preference – Bentley Global (UK) Ltd” form from his company’s website.
  4. Mr Bentley, by contrast, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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