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Pressure builds on McLean's SVM Global as MAM takes 7% stake

Pressure builds on McLean's SVM Global as MAM takes 7% stake

MAM Funds has taken a 7.38% stake in the SVM Global investment trust following fund manager Donald Robertson's decision to stand down last week.

The team of investment company analysts at Numis said the move may hint at corporate action, given the particular interest in SVM in Martin Gray's CF Miton Special Situations, although the holding is spread across a number of other MAM funds.

Moreover, at around the same time as Robertson's decision to stand down, SVM Global investors were told of a 10.2% writedown in the fund's net asset value (NAV).

'In our view, this raises the possibility of corporate action following the recent management changes at SVM Global.  We understand that some shareholders are unhappy with the way the NAV provision was released and are concerned about a fire sale of some of the company’s assets,' the Numis team, headed by Charles Cade, said.

Colin McLean (pictured), who co-founded Edinburgh-based SVM with Robertson, has taken over as lead manager of the trust.

The £124 million investment trust has seen its shares more than halve in value since reaching a 456.0p high in May 2008, putting McLean under pressure to turn its form around.

On Tuesday SVM bought back 100,000 ordinary shares, a step which should help narrow its 15% discount.

McLean plans to improve the trust's returns by reducing its emphasis on special situations. These will be capped at no more than a third of its portfolio, though at some stages they accounted for more than 50%.

Numis said it was 'unclear' whether there was widespread shareholder support for McLean's proposed changes, and the investor who sold the 7% stake allowing MAM Funds to buy in has not been released.

'We believe there is now significant pressure on Colin McLean to convince shareholders that he can improve the fund’s performance,' Numis added.

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