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Woodford stockmarket clout tops Greece

Greece’s stockmarket needs some good news to turn it around. Why not put the UK’s leading equity income fund manager in charge?

By Nick Reeve | Published Jul 30, 2012 | comments

Here’s a stat for all you euro-doom fans out there: the Greek stockmarket is now valued at ¤22.7bn, according to the country’s leading stock exchange.

That’s £17.6bn – or £3bn less than is currently invested in equity income guru Neil Woodford’s Invesco Perpetual Income and High Income funds.

In five years, the Athex All Share index has plummeted by a staggering 88 per cent. This means that at today’s exchange rates, roughly £150bn has been wiped out from the Greek stockmarket.

In the same period, Mr Woodford has grown his funds by £5bn. The Income fund, now £9.1bn in size, posted a five-year return of 13.7 per cent to July 23, while the £11.7bn High Income fund gained 14.9 per cent.

In total he has a hand in the management of a massive £32bn, and all six of his mandates with five-year track records have delivered returns in the top quartile of their peer groups.

So why not put one of the UK’s leading investors in charge of kickstarting Greek growth? Mr Woodford is an activist investor who does not shy away from leaning on company boards to persuade them to take a certain path.

If Mr Woodford’s many fund manager peers are to be believed, market falls always create ‘attractive investment opportunities’ – and to hell with the collapsing currency and battered banks.

This may sound rather far-fetched – and I doubt Mr Woodford is likely to leave Henley-on-Thames for the Hellenic Republic any time soon – but there is a serious point to be made.

Greece needs to start thinking about growth. As the government is effectively bust, this will have to come from companies and the private sector. The sooner Greece stops dancing the hokey-cokey and decide once and for all whether it is in or out of the euro, the sooner its companies can pick up the pieces and attempt to persuade the markets its homeland is open for business.

Nick Reeve is senior news reporter at Investment Adviser

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