Gartmore Euro Focus set to ditch UK

Gartmore is to change its £10m European Focus fund’s remit to exclude UK equities. The fund currently invests on a pan-European basis, including UK stocks, but the policy change is expected to be passed by the end of February. Gartmore says the proposal is due to two factors. First, onshore European including UK funds tend to sell less well than Europe ex UK funds, as investors want to decide on portfolio allocation between the two regions themselves. Second, multi-managers had asked for the change in order to buy into the skills of fund manager Gary Clarke. Clarke says his fund will be seeded with another £30m if the proposal is ratified, in order to allow funds of funds to invest without breaking their size restrictions. He adds: “The fund would then be a good size. At around £40m it would have enough scale to reduce the drag of administration charges but it would still be small enough to be nimble and allow me to invest aggressively in mid-caps.” By changing the fund’s remit, Gartmore would create a consistent universe of onshore Europe ex UK funds by risk classification, Clarke says, with the European Focus fund as the most aggressive, followed by the medium-risk European Selected Opportunities fund managed by Roger Guy. Clarke says the change could benefit performance. The fund was ranked first in its sector over the three months to February 2, up 10.4%, according to Standard & Poor’s. Of its top 10 contributors to performance, Clarke says only one, HSBC, is listed in the UK, though a total of 12 out of 45 stocks in the portfolio are listed in London. He says he would look to sell these 12 UK holdings on the day after the proposal is ratified, and add weight to the other existing holdings or possibly to buy into new equities. Clarke says performance winners in the last three months have included Puma, ProSieben, Munich Re, Continental and Deutsche Bank. He has been overweight insurance – especially Italian non-life insurers such as Milano and Fondiaria, due to a law change that cut down on traffic accidents – and IT hardware sectors, due to the increased capital expenditure by telcos, by 5% and 6% respectively against his FTSE Europe index benchmark.