Witan Investment Trust switches up Lindsell Train holding

£180m change coincides with closed-ended fund dialling down UK equity exposure

Nick Train


The Witan Investment Trust has switched up the part of its portfolio managed by Lindsell Train from a UK equities to a global equities mandate.

The £180m mandate, which has been managed by Lindsell Train since 2010, accounts for 8% of the portfolio.

The board of the £2bn investment trust said in a regulatory filing published on Monday afternoon that the switch was “part of the evolution of Witan’s portfolio towards a greater global exposure”.

The transition from the UK to the global holdings was effected during December 2019, the filing said.

The board touted the performance of Lindsell Train’s UK portfolio at Witan as an “outstanding success”, noting it delivered an annualised return of 15.5% from September 2010 to the end of November 2019. That compares to an 8.4% annual rate of return from the UK stock market over the same period, the regulatory filing said.

Lindsell Train faced several bumps in the road in 2019 with the Lindsell Train UK Equity suffering its largest ever monthly outflows in September 2019 with investors pulling £374m.

On Christmas Eve, Morningstar downgraded the £6.7bn Lindsell Train UK Equity fund and its closed-ended version, the £1.9bn Finsbury Growth & Income Trust, due to capacity concerns. The downgrades came a month after Square Mile downgraded the Lindsell Train UK Equity fund due to concerns about how significant outflows could hit the strategy.

But the Witan Investment Trust board said it was confident that “[Lindsell Train’s] approach of investing in exceptional, enduring brand franchises as long-term investors will continue to benefit Witan’s shareholder returns, while offering a broader opportunity set than the UK market alone is able to offer”.

The change of Lindsell Train mandate coincides with the investment trust switching its benchmark to 15% UK equities and 85% global equities, albeit with an effective benchmark of 19% in the UK thanks to its weighting in the global index.

Previously, Witan’s benchmark was 30% UK and 70% in a composite of four regional indices. The change had already been signalled to investors in September 2019.

“We believe the new benchmark is more reflective of the range of opportunities in the global economy and that shareholders will benefit in the long-term from exposure to a more international investment universe,” the Witan Investment Trust board said in Monday’s regulatory filing.


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