Scottish trust unveils first results since hostile takeover bid

The Securities Trust of Scotland (STS) investment trust has announced its first set of results since reconstructing last June, following a failed hostile takeover bid.

From June 24, 2005, to March 31, 2006, the Martin Currie managed trust delivered a net asset value total return of 25.7%, compared with its FTSE All-Share benchmark, which rose by 22.7%.

In March 2005, the trust was subject to a hostile takeover bid by the Perpetual Income & Growth investment trust (PIGIT).

After the board rejected the bid, and a second approach in April, shareholders were offered a rollover into a new Martin Currie-managed vehicle, a cash exit, or a rollover into the Lowlands investment trust.

According to Martin Currie, just 6% of STS shareholders opted to transfer into Lowlands.

The new vehicle, again titled the Securities Trust of Scotland, began trading on June 20, 2005. At launch it had 120m of assets, which was some 221m less than the 341m assets held in the old vehicle before it was closed. The trust is now at 138m.

Following the reconstruction, management of the portfolio was passed from former manager Tom Maxwell to Ross Watson, who joined Martin Currie in March last year from Aberdeen Asset Management.

Following the liquidation of the old trust, Watson says, most of the available assets were moved across into the new vehicle. “I transferred across all the old fund’s holding in Britannic’s life assurance business, which led to a rise in NAV following its takeover by Resolution,” he says.

Indeed, the takeovers of Exel and O2, which the fund also held, contributed to its performance, as did its decision to be 10% geared for most of the period, Watson says. The trust holds 55 companies in the portfolio, with Watson’s biggest overweight position being the utility company Scottish and Southern Energy.

In addition to its NAV return, the trust’s share price recorded a capital gain of 24.2%, compared with 19.8% for the index, from June 24, 2005, to March 31, 2006. Over the same period, the discount of the trust narrowed from 8.6% to 7.4%. However, as of May 3, this discount had widened to 9%.