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Fidelity hands Shah's Special Values trust to Alex Wright

Fidelity hands Shah's Special Values trust to Alex Wright

The board of Fidelity Special Values and Fidelity Worldwide Investment has announced Alex Wright has been appointed as portfolio manager of the investment trust, taking over from Sanjeev Shah.

The change kick-starts the vehicle's transition towards a focus more heavily on smaller and mid-cap stocks, an area which Fidelity UK Smaller Companies manager Wright specialises in.

It will also allow Shah to concentrate on running the open-end Fidelity Special Situations fund.

Over three years to the end of April, the Fidelity Special Values trust has lagged its benchmark, the FTSE All Share Index, returning 36.8% versus  51.6% by its comparator index, while its discount has sagged to roughly to 12%. 

Shah's Fidelity Special Situations fund, previously managed by veteran stockpicker Anthony Bolton, has also struggled in recent years.  Over the same stretch the £2.2 billion fund delivered 22.4%, compared to 43.6% by the FTSE 100 TR Index and 36.1% by the FTSE All Share TR.

Over the period holdings in banks have been a particular drag on Shah's performance, with troubled Lloyds accounting for 4.9% of his portfolio.  The last three years have seen Lloyds struggle to regain its footing after being bailed out by the government, with its journey back to health including the disposal of branches and more recently attempts to offload £1 billion of toxic debt.  Its shares have failed to respond though, falling 45% in the three years to the end of April.

Shift to small caps

Announcing the management change to investors, Fidelity said it was the board's intention for the vehicle to concentrate on delivering returns from small and mid cap stocks. 

While Wright has over 10 years' experience at Fidelity, where he initially came on board as a research analyst, he is the top perforner in his Investment Management Association (IMA) peer group, a position he has held since the trust's inception in February 2008.

'The board is keen to take greater advantage of opportunities for capital growth available from dynamic smaller and mid-cap companies and this is an area where Alex has demonstrated considerable success,' said Lynn Ruddick, chairman of Fidelity Special Values,  as she told the market of the trust's plan.

Ruddick added: 'We respect the wishes of Sanjeev Shah to focus exclusively on his open-end fund and the board would like to thank him for his diligent management of the portfolio in what has been a particularly challenging period in equity markets.'

The investment strategy and company’s benchmark will both remain unchanged under Wright's leadership, and like Shah (pictured), Wright will aim to generate returns by investing in out-of-favour stocks with downside protection and unrecognised growth.

The change of manager will take effect from 1 September, allowing for an orderly handover of the portfolio.

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