Merrill Lynch Investment Managers is getting plugged into the world of heat, light and water with the world utilities fund.
Based in Luxemburg, world utilities is a SICAV aimed at investors who are looking for a low to medium risk fund.
The fund will invest in companies that supply electricity, water and gas. It will also target companies that are involved in new energy technologies such as wind power, solar energy, coastal barrages and small microturbines.
Half of the fund will invest in the US, with 20 per cent in Europe, 20 per cent in Asia and 10 per cent in Latin America. The fund will be managed by Walter Rogers in New York. Rogers joined Merrill Lynch in 1987 and has been managing the Merrill Lynch utilities and telecommunications fund since 1990.
Deregulation is affecting utility companies all over the world, as governments loosen their grip on the energy and water sectors to allow more privatisation. Utilities can be a safer investment during times of market volatility, as they tend to be driven by increasing demand and by internal developments such as mergers of utilities providers. However, recent events such as the power blackouts in California have shown that deregulation can go too far and may represent too big a risk for some investors.
According to Standard & Poors the Merrill Lynch energy fund is ranked 4 out of 5 funds in its sector, based on £1,000 invested on a bid to bid basis with gross income reinvested over three years to April 16, 2001.