Witan trust value plunges

The Witan investment trust saw its net asset value (NAV) per share decline by 24.8% in 2008, becoming the latest investment trust giant to release poor annual results.

Over the year, a negative 24.9% was returned to shareholders. The total assets under management (AUM) in the trust shrank from £1.2 billion to £879m, a fall of 27.9%.

However, its dividend increased to 10.2p for the year, a 3% increase. The trust slightly outperformed its benchmark, a mixture of the FTSE All-Share, FTSE All-World North America, FTSE All-World Europe (ex UK) and FTSE All-World Asia Pacific indexes.

The trust, which has a multi-manager structure, said it gained from being underweight Britain and overweight international markets, enabling the relative fall of sterling to partly compensate for stockmarket losses.

According to the trust, it has recently been over 95% invested in equities although it can reduce equity holdings to 80%.

The company suffered a £278m pre-tax loss over the year.

Harry Henderson, Witan’s chairman, is calling for greater government action to fight the financial crisis. “They must…show that long term economic stability is more important than short term political considerations,” he said in a statement.

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