Finsbury Growth Trust PLC
02 April 2004
Strictly Private & Confidential
Finsbury Growth Trust PLC
For Immediate Release 2 April 2004
Proposed Change of Investment Policy
The Board of Finsbury Growth Trust PLC ('Finsbury Growth') announces that it
will be writing to shareholders in the near future with details of proposals to
change its investment objective to put a greater emphasis on the income
component of total return. These proposals, which will include a change of name
to Finsbury Growth & Income Trust PLC will be subject to shareholder approval.
Finsbury Growth's current investment objective is to invest in the shares of
larger UK companies with the objective of achieving capital growth and providing
a total return in excess of that of the FTSE All-Share Index.
The Board attaches importance to the contribution which dividends make to the
achievement of growth. Finsbury Growth's investment manager, Close Finsbury
Asset Management Limited ('Close Finsbury'), and its investment adviser,
Lindsell Train Limited ('Lindsell Train') have consistently emphasised the
contribution that dividends make to the achievement of growth for shareholders
and their investment style has tended to generate strong dividend flows from a
portfolio yielding in excess of the UK market in general.
Lindsell Train was appointed investment adviser on 11 December 2000. In the
period from the end of January 2001 to the end of February 2004 Finsbury Growth
has outperformed its benchmark by 9.2 per cent.
Proposed changes to investment objective
The Board believes that developing the current investment philosophy and
objective to put a greater emphasis on the income component of total return will
be of benefit to shareholders. Changing the emphasis on income would allow
Finsbury Growth to be reclassified in the UK Growth and Income Sector, a sector
which has tended to trade at a lesser discount than the UK Growth Sector, where
Finsbury Growth is presently classified.
The Board will, therefore, be seeking shareholder approval for a revised
investment objective as follows:
'Finsbury Growth Trust PLC invests in the shares of UK companies with the
objective of achieving capital and income growth and providing a total return in
excess of that of the FTSE All-Share Index'.
There will be no change in the Company's policy as announced in October 2003 of
investing no more than 15 per cent. of its gross assets in other listed
investment companies (including listed investment trusts). There will also be no
change in the terms of the investment management agreement with Close Finsbury
or the discretionary advisory agreement with Lindsell Train.
The greater emphasis on the income component in total return will be achieved by
a modest realignment of the portfolio and by increasing the Company's investment
in the preference share market, which Lindsell Train considers is an undervalued
sector of the stock market, from approximately 7 per cent. to approximately 20
per cent. of the portfolio. In order to make this additional investment in the
preference share market, bank borrowings will be increased from approximately 11
per cent. at present to approximately 20 per cent. of total assets.
To recognise the change in investment objective the Board will also be proposing
to change the Company's name to Finsbury Growth & Income Trust PLC.
Assuming shareholders approve the change in investment objective the first
dividend that will be paid following this approval will be the interim dividend
payable in July 2004 in respect of the 6 months to 31 March 2004. This dividend
will reflect the dividends earned on the existing portfolio reflecting the
current investment objective and, subject to unforeseen circumstances, the Board
expects to pay an interim dividend of 1.8p per share (1.8p per share in 2003).
The first dividend to be paid from the portfolio based on the adoption of the
new investment objective will be the final dividend for the year ending 30
September 2004 payable in January 2005 when, subject to unforeseen
circumstances, the Board anticipates paying a final dividend of not less than
4.1p per share (3.2p per share in 2004). Had the new investment objective been
in place for the whole of the financial year to 30 September 2004 the Board
would have expected to pay a total dividend of 8.2p per share. It is emphasised
that these statements of the dividends expected to be paid in July 2004 and
January 2005 and the illustrative dividend for the whole of the financial year
to 30 September 2004 are not profit forecasts.
The Board believes that, with the changed investment objective, the Company will
continue to be capable of out performing the FTSE All-Share Index. They also
believe that the proposed investment objective will prove attractive to new
investors and provide the prospect of a sustained improvement in the rating of
the Company's shares. In order to support an improved rating in the Company's
shares the Board intend to apply an active discount management policy, buying
back shares at a discount of 5 per cent. to net asset value. The making and
timing of any share buy backs will be at the absolute discretion of the Board.
The Board intends that shares bought back by the Company will, to the maximum
extent permitted by law, be retained in treasury for reissue at a future date
and resold by the Company. Such shares may be resold by the Company at a
discount to the prevailing net asset value per share provided that the discount
at which they are sold is less than the discount at which they were bought back
by the Company. A resolution to this effect and a resolution to renew the
Board's authority to buy back shares will be proposed at the extraordinary
general meeting to approve the proposed changes of the Company's investment
objective and its name.
For Further Information:
Finsbury Growth Trust
Michael Reeve 44 (0) 1359 240730
Close Finsbury Asset Management
Alastair Smith 44 (0)776 869 6072
Tracey Gower 44 (0) 20 7426 6219
Nick Train 44 (0)207 225 6411
Jo Stonier 44 (0)207 763 6970
Fiona Harris 44 (0)207 763 6970
This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange