Investment Trusts 

Witan boss makes tactical mining investment

Witan boss makes tactical mining investment

Andrew Bell, chief executive of the £2.3bn Witan Investment Trust, has been investing in the mining sector to profit from the upswing in global economic growth.

Witan invests by buying other funds.

Mr Bell has gained exposure to the mining sector through an investment in the £830m BlackRock World Mining investment trust.

He began buying the trust in 2014 because he felt market sentiment towards commodities was too negative given the outlook for global growth.

Mr Bell said the trust "promptly halved" as fears about the health of the Chinese economy erupted in Autumn 2014.

Mr Bell held onto the investment and it has performed much better since then, returning 49 per cent over the past three years to 13 December, compared with 10 per cent for the average trust in the AIC Commodities and Natural Resources sector in the same time period.

He said the trust continues to be cheap and he has bought more shares in it this year.

But the fund manager said he doesn't anticipate owning the shares for many years into the future, as he feels technological change will have a profoundly negative effect on commodity markets.

Mr Bell said within five years it is likely he will be invested in Sycona, a vehicle that holds shares in life science companies rather than in commodity companies.

This is because he feels technological shifts will be more profound by then, and create value in areas such as life sciences.

In terms of broader equity exposure, Mr Bell is keen on the equities of Japan and Europe.

David Miller, investment director at Quilter Cheviot, said the current strong share price performance of Japanese stocks is based on "stronger foundations" than has been the case for many years.  

Philip Milton, who runs Philip J Milton and Co in Devon, said he "greedily" doesn't currently invest in the Witan Investment Trust as the discount to net assets is very narrow.

Mr Milton's view is that one can buy investment trusts that have excellent track records, as Witan does, but on a bigger discount at present, making them much better options.  

david.thorpe@ft.com

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