New Star closures in new wave of mergers

Unitholders of the New Star Pacific Equity, UK Growth Portfolio and UK Smaller Companies funds voted last week for them to be merged into existing New Star vehicles.

Steer’s (pictured) £12.5m Smaller Companies fund, which he inherited in November last year, has been been merged into his £155m UK Alpha fund. Rob Page, marketing director at New Star, says that with the group already having a UK Opportunities fund, there was no need to have a separate small-cap mandate.

The UK Growth Portfolio, a fund of funds managed by Mark Harris, will be merged into Harris’s New Star Fund of Funds Portfolio. Page says there is not a large demand for single-country funds of funds, and adds that the global fund into which it has been merged already has half its assets invested in the UK.

Finally, Ian Beattie’s Pacific Equity fund has been merged into the existing New Star Pacific Growth unit trust; the new fund has combined assets of £28.12m.

Page says: “In terms of funds of funds, we bought eight unfettered contracts from EFM last year and we have kept seven, while we acquired 14 single-manager funds and we have kept six. After a period of consultation with intermediaries, we decided the funds that we have closed were surplus to requirements, as we have either partly or entirely duplicated funds in our range already.”

Both UK funds had been underperforming their respective sectors: UK Smaller Companies was ranked 49th out of 62 funds in the IMA UK Smaller Companies sector over one year to September 27, while Harris’s UK Growth Portfolio was ranked 177th out of 295 funds in the UK All Companies sector.

The Pacific Equity fund had fared better in the past 12 months with a bid-to-bid return of 10.8%, beating the Far East ex Japan sector average of 8.0%, according to Standard & Poor’s.