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Witan’s new trio beat benchmarks

Multi-manager investment trust Witan says the three new managers it appointed last year following a restructuring of the trust have each outperformed their benchmarks.

Chicago-based Thomas White International was appointed to run a global equity mandate in September. The trust’s unaudited preliminary results for the year ending December 31, 2007 show the manager produced returns of 3.6 per cent in its first three months while its benchmark returned 0.9 per cent.

The results also show that Orbis, which was appointed in July to manage an Australasian mandate, produced returns of 15.3 per cent since inception. It outperformed its benchmark by 4.5 per cent.

Comgest, which is responsible for Asia ex Japan, produced returns of 16.5 per cent compared with the benchmark performance of 15.8 per cent.

Other highlights for the year include a 7.6 per cent increase in dividends and total shareholder return of 7.5 per cent, meaning that annualised five year returns are 15.8 per cent a year.

It says further developments in the trust such as manager and asset allocation changes should be expected over the coming months.

It is likely there will be less emphasis on the UK from an asset allocation point of view and the portfolio will shift from a focus on alpha to beta.

The portfolio’s biggest sector weighting is financials but Witan says this is a reflection of the value style approach taken by some of its managers rather than a positive view of the sector.

Marketing director James Budden says: “What you are seeing does not mean that we like the financials sector. It is because our value managers, particularly Brandes and Southeastern, are purchasing good quality companies at rock-bottom prices. UBS is a good example. It has come under a lot of pressure from sub-prime writedowns but was bought at a bargain price.

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