Witan is an investment trust listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Witan was established in 1909 to manage the estate of the first Lord Faringdon, Alexander Henderson. Witan listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1924 and in 1932 it founded Henderson Administration (now Janus Henderson Investors) to manage its investments funds. In 1983 Henderson Administration became a public company and in 1997 Witan sold its last remaining stake in the company. In 2004 Witan became self-managed and appointed its first Chief Executive Officer who, along with his Board colleagues, oversees the multi-manager structure and directs investment strategy.
Please see a short video by the Association of Investment Companies which explains how an investment trust works.
Investment trusts are the world’s oldest form of collective investment and have been a part of the investment landscape in the UK for 150 years. Most investment trusts are listed on the London Stock Exchange and because they are traded on the stock exchange they are subject to the same level of scrutiny and corporate governance that governs all UK Public Limited Companies. This includes oversight by a Board of Directors which has the responsibility to act in shareholders’ interests at all times; a characteristic that unit trusts do not have. Investment trusts have a set number of shares (and are sometimes referred to as closed-ended funds).
To invest in a trust, you buy shares from someone willing to sell them, unlike unit trusts where new units are created when someone wants to invest. This means that in times of market stress, the fund manager is not forced to sell assets to meet redemptions and investment trusts can take a longer term view of which companies they own without worrying about investors seeking access to their money.
Unlike unit trusts, investment trusts do not have to pay out all of their income to shareholders each year and can ‘smooth’ payments to investors by retaining up to 15% of its income, saving some in years it earns more to subsidise the years it earns less.