Investment trusts raise record assets in 2015

Rising coins

The investment company sector raised a record £5.2 billion this year, while discounts narrowed to historic lows.

Net fundraising for investment trusts was a record £5.24 billion in 2015, 56 per cent higher than the last record set in 2007.

According to the Association of Investment Companies (AIC), the secondary market drove the total, with trusts issuing £4.81 billion in new shares this year – the highest level ever. Companies in specialist sectors attracted the biggest inflows, with peer-to-peer lending trust P2P Global Investments raising the most at £671 million via two share issues.

A number of Money Observer Rated Funds also enjoyed a fruitful year. In the global sector Scottish Mortgage and Witan issued £172.9 million and £81 million of new shares respectively, while in the UK equity income sector Finsbury Growth & Income raised £124 million and City of London raised £69 million.

New launches raised £2.67 billion, with the largest, Woodford Patient Capital, raising a record £800 million in April. A total of 17 new investment trusts launched onto the market in 2015, the majority in higher-yielding sectors such as property and debt.

The most recent, The Schroder European Real Estate Investment Trust (SREIT), launched onto the London Stock Exchange on Thursday (10 December) with £107.5 million of assets under management.

The first investment trust launched by Schroders in 10 years, SREIT will focus on ‘targeted growth cities’ across continental Europe, according to the manager. Once it is fully invested the trust will pay a 5.5 per cent annual dividend.

Tightening Discounts

The AIC says that share price discounts to net asset value also narrowed to record low levels across the investment trust universe this year, with the average dropping to 2.4 per cent in October before widening out to 3.2 per cent by the end of November.

Ian Sayers, chief executive of the AIC, comments: ‘2015 has been a significant year for trusts with record net fundraising and secondary issuance, while money leaving the sector was at its lowest in 12 years.

‘With all this demand it’s not surprising that discounts continue to trade at historic lows, and some investment company boards whose shares are in demand will be considering how they manage the discount if sentiment turns next year.’

Assets across all investment trusts, assets peaked at £137 billion in May – another record level –before settling at £133.6 billion by the end of November. This is a significant increase on industry assets of £122 billion at the end of 2014.