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Advisers split as murray vcts move to close

The decision of the four Murray VCT boards to sack Murray Johnstone as manager and move the contracts over to Close Venture Management has split adviser opinion.

The Murray VCTs, acq-uired by Aberdeen along with subsidiary Murray Johnstone in 2000, have poor long-term performance track records but since Aberdeen VCT supremo Bill Nixon started overseeing them last September – sacking a number of managers and repositioning the portfolios – returns have improved markedly.

Hargreaves Lansdown investment manager Ben Yearsley says the move is of no benefit to shareholders and reeks of self-interest as Aberdeen plans to merge two of the VCTs – costing some Murray directors their jobs – will now be shelved.

Yearsley says the cost of terminating the management contracts will be borne by shareholders and it will be more difficult for the managers to monitor their holdings from the City as most are based in the North.

Chelsea Financial Services bond manager Matt-hew Woodbridge says the move is positive as, despite Aberdeen turning round performance, Close has more resources.

Yearsley says: “The directors are acting irresponsibly and moving to Close will incur a lot of cost and be of no benefit to shareholders whatsoever. The directors have got a lot to answer for.”

Woodbridge says: “Aberdeen has been steadily imp-roving returns. However, Close has a proven track record and I applaud the boards for this decision.”

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