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Laxey takes another bite of Gartmore trust

Trustbuster Laxey Partners has again increased its stake in the struggling Gartmore Select Japanese investment trust.

Activist shareholder Laxey Partners is run by Colin Kingsnorth and Andrew Pegge and has a reputation for buying into trusts on large discounts to net asset value and forcing them to wind-up, restructure or buy back shares.

At the end of last week Laxey bought another 100,000 shares in the trust, lifting its total holding to just over 3.8 million shares, or 19.11% of the company.

No-one at Laxey Partners was available for comment. Its stake is big enough to allow it call a shareholders' meeting to discuss Gartmore Select Japanese's future.

The £10 million Gartmore Select Japanese trust (GSJ) has a poor long-term performance record. Over five years its net assets have dropped 45%, compared with an average drop of just 3% among trusts in the Japan sector.

Last summer Gartmore poached Virgil Adams from Fidelity Investments to boost performance.

Adams, now based in Tokyo, took over management of the trust in July, but short-term performance has so far failed to improve. Results last month for the six months to November showed a substantial underperformance of the benchmark.

The trust's discount appears to have been narrowed by Laxey's recent aggressive buying, and Gartmore Select Japanese now stands on a 10% discount to NAV, compared with its average 13% over the past 12 months. Trusts in the Japan sector stand on an average current 15% discount.

Shares in the trust are down 0.25p at 25.75p.

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