InfrastructureFeb 11 2022

Baillie Gifford trust shifts approach for 'watershed' 2022

Search supported by
Baillie Gifford trust shifts approach for 'watershed' 2022
Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

The managers of the Scottish American Investment Company – known as Saints – have said they will start investing in infrastructure as the trust faces a "watershed" 2022.

The £893m trust, which is managed by Baillie Gifford's James Dow and Toby Ross, will see its borrowing costs fall this year as an £80m debenture taken out in 1997 will mature.

This, combined with over changes to the trust's borrowing, will see its effective interest cost more than halve.

The managers said they have been considering how to shift the trust's investment approach in response to this.

In the trust's results for 2021, they said: "The good news is that with a lower cost of borrowing, the benefit to shareholders of having this borrowing in the capital structure should be greater than it has been in the past, and the opportunity set of investible assets should be broader."

The managers said they would maintain the trust's property portfolio since this provided a resilient income stream which out-paced inflation.

They added: "We think that some high quality infrastructure assets should share several of these attractive characteristics.  Additionally, they should have rather less economic sensitivity than either our equity or property portfolios, which over time should be helpful in delivering a resilient income stream.

"This is why we have started to build a portfolio of these names with the help of Baillie Gifford's infrastructure analysts, as detailed above.

"This initiative is in its early days, and we would hope to uncover some additional interesting opportunities here over the coming years: we have much to learn about the space."

Dow and Ross said they would also invest in fixed income because, even though it didn't offer inflation protection, it did offer "contractual certainty".

Saints has underperformed its sector over the past year - returning 10 per cent while its sector, the AIC Global Equity Income, returned 13 per cent.

But over the longer-term Saints has outperformed. Over five years it has returned 77.7 per cent while its sector returned 58.6 per cent.

The trust's chairman, Peter Moon, said: "The managers and board have a long-term perspective and the company's portfolio of investments differs markedly from the make-up of the global equity index against which performance is often compared.

"This differentiated portfolio is necessary and appropriate in order for Saints to deliver a high and growing income stream, as well as growth in the company's assets."