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Japan equity funds have best month in five years

The Building Societies&#39 Association says it intends to fight Treasury proposals to force societies and banks to hand over unclaimed assets to charities.

The BSA says it has a found a clause in the legislation which exempts societies from the measures included in the Chancellor&#39s last Budget.

The Treasury gave banks and societies until November to reunite unclaimed assets with savers before redistributing the unclaimed cash to charities.

But the BSA says it has uncovered legislation that means money deposited by savers not claimed within three years is forfeited to the society.

If a saver pursues their money later, they can reclaim it but any redistribution is prohibited unless it is agreed by members.

BSA director general Adrian Coles will meet with senior Treasury officials and society chief executives in the next two weeks to discuss the position on dormant accounts.

The BSA believes any legislation brought in by the Government now could only apply to money deposited by savers from now and could not be backdated.

Cicero Consulting director Iain Anderson believes the Treasury&#39s move could indicate a swift change in direction on unclaimed assets. The Government has strongly opposed any introduction of redistribution of unclaimed assets to help pensioners.

BSA press and public relations officer Sarah Clark says: “The BSA believes that the position is slightly different for mutuals. The deposits made by an individual are used for the benefit of all members to provide good value savings rates and low-cost mortgages. We consider all money deposited as being put to good use, namely to enable people to buy their own homes.”

Japanese equity funds had their best month in March since June 1999 as the yen made significant gains against sterling, according to figures from Lipper.

The IMA Japanese smaller companies category rose by 22 per cent while the Japan sector rose by 16 per cent, helped by a 5.7 per cent appreciation of the yen against sterling. Japan&#39s strength boosted the Far East including Japan sector which wasup by 4.3 per cent while the Far East excluding Japan fell by nearly 1 per cent.

The best-performing funds were Legg Mason&#39s Japan equity fund, which gained 28.8 per cent, and Invesco Perpetual&#39s Japanese smaller companies fund, which rose by 27.5 per cent.

Most funds suffered much poorer performance, with only 699 of the 1,896 funds achieving positive returns. The worst-performing funds were the HSBC Hong Kong growth fund, which was down by 7 per cent, and the Unicorn smaller companies fund, which fell by 6.5 per cent.

UK equity funds had a poor month in March, with the smaller companies sector down by 1.3 per cent and the UK equity income sector down by 1.4 per cent.


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