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APS is first casualty in Witan review

Witan has offloaded APS Asset Management, which ran its Asia Pacific holdings, after a prolonged period of underperformance.

Further casualties are expected following the investment trust’s first full review of the mandates it outsourced to third-party managers in October 2004.

The £76m Asia excluding Japan portfolio is set to be split between Comgest, a Paris-based Asian and emerging markets specialist, and Orbis, which will invest £20m in its Orbis/SM Australian equity fund.

Witan marketing director James Budden says: “APS Asset Management underperformed from the word go. Over three years, it has underperformed by 8.5 per cent and in the last year by 12 per cent.

“Its one big bet is manufacturing in China and the surrounding nations, something which has been written down in the past few years. The group has also shown no interest in investing in India, which is 8.5 per cent of the index, and has only 10 per cent in Australia compared with 30 per cent of the index.

“It is the first in a series of moves as it was the easiest to make in terms of effects on other areas of the portfolio. Future ones will have a ripple effect.”

Budden says the underweight position in Australia is being corrected by the investment with Orbis while Witan will get the exposure to India through Comgest, which is an experienced investor in this market.

Witan believes specialist managers do not need to be based in the region as talent can be accessed from anywhere in the world but Comgest has a Hong Kong office.

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