Appointment of European Equity Managers

Following a wide-ranging search covering active managers of European equities, Witan has decided to appoint Crux Asset Management Limited and SW Mitchell Capital LLP as specialist European equity managers. They have each been allocated approximately £100m (c. 5% of Witan’s assets) to manage in European equities, with the objective of outperforming the FTSE Europe ex-UK regional index as a benchmark. 

The portfolios have been funded by the termination of the pan-European equity mandate previously managed by Marathon Asset Management, with the addition of some £24m from cash resources. The change was implemented during late October using a transition manager. 

Following this change, Witan will have ten external managers (covering UK, European, Asian, Emerging Market and Global markets), all of whom adopt a high conviction active management approach. In addition, the Company’s Executive team invests up to 10% of the assets in a range of collective funds covering specialist asset classes and actively adjusts the Company’s gearing according to the degree of opportunity that the markets are perceived to offer.

 

Witan’s CEO, Andrew Bell commented,

“The reason for the new appointments is to increase our actively managed exposure to European equities, for which the political and economic backdrop has improved during 2017. We took a more positive view on the region in April, ahead of the French Presidential election, using equity index futures to increase our exposure while we conducted a search amongst available high-conviction active managers, in order to increase the stock-specific focus of our portfolio and its potential to outperform. 

“As well as increasing Witan’s exposure to a region with improving economic fundamentals and many well-managed international Companies, this change marks a further step towards increasing the stock-specific conviction in our combined portfolio. One, albeit imperfect, measure of this is Active Share – the degree to which a portfolio differs from its benchmark (with 0% being a replica of the index and 100% having no holdings in common). The appointment of Crux and SW Mitchell, with concentrated portfolios, will significantly increase the active share of our European manager portfolios (from around 70% to 86%), with Witan’s overall combined active share rising to over 76% (from c 74% in June).

“We would like to thank Marathon Asset Management for their stewardship on behalf of our shareholders since 2007 (2010 in European equities). During what has been a challenging and volatile period, both for Europe and the UK, they have successfully added value against the index, for which, on behalf of shareholders, we thank them.”

 

- ENDS –

 

For further information please contact:

Andrew Bell, Chief Executive Officer

Witan Investment Trust plc

Tel: 020 7227 9770

[email protected]

 

James Hart, Investment Director

Witan Investment Trust

Tel. 020 7227 9770

[email protected]

 

Hannah Philp, Director of Marketing 

Witan Investment Trust plc

Tel. 020 7227 9770

[email protected]

 

Witan Investment Trust plc
Established in 1909, Witan is one of the UK's largest investment trusts, managing £2.0bn on behalf of over 25,000 investors (source: Witan, as at 30.09.2017). Witan operates a multi-manager structure and currently has 10 external managers. Witan is listed in the 'Global Growth' sector and is a member of the FTSE 250 index. Registered as an Investment Company in England No 101625. For further details please visit www.witan.com

CRUX Asset Management Limited
CRUX Asset Management is a specialist active asset management house specialising in European equities. The team has deep investment expertise gained from careers spanning several decades. The investment approach is defined by an unwavering philosophy which aims to deliver superior returns over the long-term by identifying and investing in the best stock ideas within its universe. Independent and privately-owned, the interests of the business are closely aligned with those of its clients as all members of the team invest significant amounts of their own assets in their funds. For further details please visit www.cruxam.com

S.W. Mitchell Capital LLP
S. W. Mitchell Capital is a specialist investment management boutique focused exclusively on European equities. Founded in 2005, the firm is based in London and manages $2 billion in assets on behalf of global institutional clients. Stuart Mitchell’s bottom up investment philosophy is designed to uncover unrecognised value, with a process centred on company meetings. Portfolios are unconstrained and concentrated, including only the investment team’s highest conviction ideas. For further details please visit www.swmitchellcapital.com

Witan Performance
Please remember, past performance is not a guide to future performance, and the value of shares and the income from them can rise and fall, so investors may not get back the amount originally invested.

 

Performance (%) to 30.09.2017* 

1 Year 

3 Years 

5 Years 

10 Years 

Witan share price (total return) 

24.8 

54.7 

134.1 

169.0 

Net Asset Value (total return) 

19.2 

54.4 

112.8 

143.3 

Benchmark (total return) 

15.3 

43.0 

85.2 

106.1 

Relative NAV total return 

+3.9 

+11.5 

+27.6 

+37.3 

 

 

Discrete Years’ Performance (%)* 

Q3 2012 

Q3 2013 

Q3 2013 

Q3 2014 

Q3 2014 

Q3 2015 

Q3 2015 

Q3 2016 

Q3 2016 

Q3 2017 

Witan share price (total return) 

30.4 

16.0 

6.4 

16.5 

24.8 

Net Asset Value (total return) 

26.9 

8.6 

3.7 

25.0 

19.2 

Benchmark (total return) 

19.8 

8.1 

-0.7 

24.8 

15.3 

Relative NAV total return 

+7.1 

+0.5 

+4.4 

+0.2 

3.9 

 

*Source: Morningstar / Witan. Total return includes the notional reinvestment of dividends. The discrete annual figures are to 30th September and updated each calendar quarter. The Net Asset Value figures take debt at fair value and include the notional reinvestment of dividends. 

Benchmark: Witan’s benchmark (since 01.01.2017) is a composite of 30% FTSE All-Share, 25% FTSE All-World North America, 20% FTSE All-World Asia Pacific, 20% FTSE All-World Europe (ex-UK), 5% FTSE All-World Emerging Markets. Previously, from 01.10.2007 to 31.12.2016 the benchmark consisted of 40% FTSE All-World, 20% FTSE All-World North America, 20% FTSE All-World Europe (ex-UK) and 20% FTSE All-World Asia Pacific. Source: FTSE International Limited (“FTSE”). FTSE is a trade mark of the London Stock Exchange Group companies and is used by FTSE under license. For more information go to www.witan.com/legal-information.