Premier looks for absolute returns

Premier Asset Management has announced that it will launch a global absolute return fund following the appointment of Michael Jennings from Morley Fund Management as senior investment manager, global equities. The firm has also unveiled the Premier Renewable Energy fund, created after the restructuring of the European Utilities investment trust.

The details of the new absolute return fund are under discussion, but the portfolio is expected to use Ucits III powers.

According to Morley, Jennings left the firm last July after six years as its head of global equities. Paula Allen has taken over Norwich World Leaders, Jennings’ only retail product, until a permanent replacement can be found.

Before joining Morley, Jennings spent 12 years as a director at Sarasin. His arrival at Premier marks the firm’s first appointment since the management buyout last year.

The launch of Premier Renewable Energy follows the ratification of a reconstruction scheme on February 1, which allowed European Utilities shareholders to take a cash exit or roll their investments into the new fund.

Nigel Sidebottom, head of closed end funds at Premier, says two arbitrage investors left the fund as a result, causing overall assets to fall from 40m to about 18m. The fund has also repaid its outstanding debt.

The new fund invests in a range of renewable energy sectors, including wind, hydroelectric power, landfill gas, biomass, solar energy and nuclear. Sidebottom says: “Renewable energy is a huge growth story and we have considerable expertise from running Renewable Energy Generation [a wind power company]. We are well placed to understand if companies are going to be a success or not.”

Sidebottom adds that the firm’s expertise will also allow it to invest in companies before they list on the stockmarket. The fund, which holds 40-60 companies, is able to invest up to 15% of its gross assets in unquoted securities. Sidebottom says the fund is holding cash, which it will invest depending on market conditions. The Guernsey-registered fund is run by Andrew Whalley and Kevin Scutt.