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Changes to European Mandate
Witan has appointed Marathon Asset Management to manage a pan-European portfolio of c.£120m, combining part of their existing UK-only mandate with Witan and the Europe ex-UK mandate previously managed by Wellington Management Company. Witan believes that the unconstrained ability to pick stocks across the wider pan-European index gives the manager additional scope to add value, as part of the Company’s mix of national, regional and global managers.
Varenne Capital Partners, Witan’s other pan-European manager, will continue to manage a smaller private equity style portfolio, with further European exposure achieved via three global managers.
Use of Derivatives
Witan has had the ability to invest using equity index futures for a number of years but has done so infrequently. Nonetheless, The Company views this as a valuable source of flexibility in a multi-manager portfolio where medium-term stock decisions by the managers are a significant feature and where, as a result, direct disinvestment is an imperfect way of adjusting shorter term market exposure. Witan has used equity index futures to increase its equity exposure since early June and to maintain market exposure during the recent transition of the European equity portfolio from Wellington to Marathon. This ability also enables Witan to adjust its asset allocation, in the event that stock-driven decisions by managers take the geographical asset allocation outside a desired range.
Andrew Bell, Chief Executive Officer of Witan Investment Trust said: “The backdrop to these changes is that the multi-manager approach adopted by Witan in 2004 has been showing encouraging signs of success, both in positive and negative market phases. The Company’s performance has been improving, both relative to its own and other commonly-used global equity benchmarks and within the Global Growth peer group.
Marathon is a well established manager of European equities with an outstanding track record (see table below). By broadening their mandate we have increased their universe of stocks and therefore their scope to find the best companies in sectors that meet their capital cycle investment strategy.
The use of equity index futures enables us to take advantage of investment opportunities arising from outbreaks of volatility in financial markets and to make adjustments to our asset allocation, without interfering with the stock picking role of our appointed investment managers."
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Eleanor Mitchell / Hugo Mortimer-Harvey
Witan Investment Trust plc
Tel: 020 7758 2240/ 2234
Tel: 020 7227 9773
NOTES TO EDITORS
Witan Investment Trust plcEstablished in 1909, Witan is one of the UK’s largest investment trusts, managing some £1,071m (as at 30.06.2010, source AIC) on behalf of some 40,000 investors. 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.
Marathon Asset ManagementMarathon Asset Management was founded in 1986 and is totally independent, managing some £27bn of institutional client assets. At the heart of Marathon’s investment philosophy is the “capital cycle” approach to investment. This is based on the idea that the prospect of high returns will attract excessive capital (and hence competition), and vice versa. In addition, the assessment of management and how they respond to the forces of the capital cycle is critical to the investment outcome. The investment philosophy is intrinsically contrarian. Given the long-term nature of the capital cycle, Marathon’s investment ideas generally require long gestation periods and therefore by industry standards, long stock holding periods.