Chicago boutique to run 10% of Witan portfolio

The board of the £1.4 billion Witan investment trust has appointed Thomas White, a Chicago-based boutique, to run 10% of the fund. The firm will manage a £150m global equity mandate. The move is the latest in a series of changes to the multi-manager structure the trust adopted in 2004.

To accommodate the new mandate, the board has cut the trust’s UK Mainstream and North American enhanced index portfolios, by eight and four percentage points respectively. James Budden, Witan’s marketing director, says the move reflects a desire to increase active management within the trust.

Three active global managers now run 35% of the trust’s overall portfolio, with MFS and Southeastern managing mandates of 10% and 15% respectively. The only existing active manager to be affected by the latest change is Wellington, which had its allocation cut from 10% to 9%.

Budden says that Wellington, which has run the Europe excluding UK mandate since 2004, remains on a “watching brief” after a period of poor performance. As reported in Fund Strategy on July 23, the board has already replaced the 5% Pacific excluding Japan portfolio, run by APS Asset Management.

The allocation was split into 3.5% Asia excluding Japan and 1.5% Australia mandates, for Comgest and Orbis respectively. As part of the latest change, the Comgest weighting has increased to 5% and Orbis to 2%.

As a result of the changes, Witan’s benchmark has moved to a blend of 40% FTSE All-Share, 20% FTSE All World North America, 20% FTSE All World Europe (ex UK) and 20% FTSE All World Asia Pacific. Further changes will be made before the end of 2007, the trust’s centenary year.