L&G chief denies reports of Mithras run-off

Adrian Johnson, chief executive of Legal & General Ventures, has dismissed reports that the 27m Mithras investment trust, run by LGV, will be put into “run-off mode”.

The trust’s board announced last week that it had decided to conduct a strategic review, expected to be completed by the end of September.

“The board is considering the options available,” says Johnson. “But they are in no way pre-judging the conclusions of the review. A continuation of the trust in its present form has certainly not been ruled out.

“We have achieved a big turnaround since 2002. The net asset value is up by 40% and we now have net cash of 13m, instead of net debt of 40m.”

The board claims the trust is significantly below it’s “optimal” size. Nick Greenwood, chief investment officer at iimia, agrees. “It is a tiny, tiny trust,” says Greenwood. “It may now be too small to be economically viable.

“The costs of running a public company have gone up significantly in recent years and the total expense ratio would be high. It looks like the board is going to call it quits.”

Greenwood adds that developments in the venture capital market are going against the trust.

“The venture capital world has changed massively, with the rise of limited partnerships,” he says. “I can not see the trust attracting much more money.”

Mithras was founded in 1990 and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1994. The trust invests in LGV’s private equity limited partnerships.

The trust’s largest allocations were to financials, consumer services and industrials at December 31. The largest holdings were LM Group, Tragus Group and LGC Group.