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Witan consolidates, drops two external managers

By Josh White

Date: Tuesday 30 May 2017

Witan consolidates, drops two external managers

(ShareCast News) - Following a review of its five managers with a global equity remit, Witan announced on Tuesday that it had decided to consolidate the previous five portfolios into three, under the management of three of its existing managers.
The FTSE 250 firm said Lansdowne Partners UK, Pzena Investment Management and Veritas Asset Management would each manage approximately 14.3% of Witan's overall assets as at mid-May.

At the end of April, they each managed between 10% and 13% of Witan's portfolio.

The additional funds would come from the closure of the accounts managed by MFS Investment Management and Tweedy, Browne Company, which managed 5% and 3% respectively.

Following the change, Witan would have nine external managers covering UK, European, Asian, Emerging Market and Global markets, all of whom adopted an active management approach.

In addition, the company's executive team invested up to 10% of the assets in a range of collective funds covering specialist asset classes and actively adjusts the company's gearing according to the degree of opportunity that the markets were perceived to offer.

"The reason for the changes is to increase the performance potential of the overall combined portfolio," said CEO Andrew Bell.

"Although manager risk diversification is one of the benefits of the multi-manager approach, there is a balance to be struck between the resulting reduction in performance volatility and having a structure with the potential to deliver attractive levels of outperformance, which requires the portfolio to differ significantly from the index.

"One, albeit imperfect, measure of this potential is 'active share' - the degree to which a portfolio differs from its benchmark, with 0% being a replica of the index and 100% having no holdings in common."

On that measure, Witan's combined active share was expected to rise from 70% at the end of 2016 to 74% following the portfolio transition.

"Witan continues to seek to increase the active content within its combined portfolio, to improve the potential to deliver good capital returns and build on our record of 42 consecutive years of dividend growth."

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