Lifting the Lid on F&C Masterplan for Investments; ANALYSIS

The Evening Standard (London, England), March 5, 2010 | Go to article overview

Lifting the Lid on F&C Masterplan for Investments; ANALYSIS


Byline: Simon English

BY common consent it has been a lousy decade for equity investment but Jeremy Tigue can at least claim to have made the best of a bad job.

As the fund manager of the Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust, Tigue has a serious responsibility -- looking after the savings of more than 100,000 people.

The trust, set up in 1868, was the first collective investment scheme in the world -- a way for middle-class Victorians to enter a realm previously only available to a specialised few. It has grown into a [pounds sterling]2 billion monster, a standard bearer for an industry that hasn't always enjoyed the best reputation and a member of the FTSE 250 index.

Today it unveiled results for 2009, a year that was "much better than we expected", says a cautious Tigue.

The shares rose 19% in the year while the net asset value was up 21%. That's a little below the benchmark for the trust, a result Tigue blames on the private equity portfolio not quite pulling its weight, but overall investors have reason to be pleased. The dividend is up 3% to 6.65p -- the 39th consecutive year that it has risen.

Tigue has been running the money since 1997 and can claim some misfortune were he inclined. He arrived at F&C just as a huge bull market was running out of steam, since when equities have not been the route to riches. "It's not been much fun for anyone," he says. "Perhaps I was born ten years too late."

Still, the trust shares have gone up 10% over the last ten years. "We held our own," adds Tigue. "It really was a lost decade in equity investment. But you can make a very strong case for saying that you'll make a lot of money in the next ten years."

The trust's reach is great -- it is able to take opportunities almost anywhere, holding stakes in 600 companies in 35 countries.

It isn't just restricted to shares either, hence the large exposure to private equity. …

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