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Murray Intnl Trust (MYI)

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Monday 14 March, 2016

Murray Intnl Trust

Final Results

RNS Number : 9150R
Murray International Trust PLC
14 March 2016
 



MURRAY INTERNATIONAL TRUST PLC

 

ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2015

 

 

1.    STRATEGIC REPORT - COMPANY SUMMARY AND FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

 

Financial Highlights

 

Net asset value total return

-7.8% 

Share price total return

 -15.2%

2014

+3.0%

2014

+1.7%

Benchmark total return                       +2.6%

Revenue return per share

 45.7p

2014

+7.5%

2014

40.8p

Dividend per share{A}

46.5p

Net gearing{B}

+17.4% 

2014

45.0p

2014

+13.8%

{A} Dividends declared for the year in which they were earned.

{B} Net gearing/(cash) is calculated by dividing total assets (as defined below) less cash or cash

equivalents by shareholders' funds expressed as a percentage.

 

2.         STRATEGIC REPORT - OVERVIEW OF STRATEGY

 

Business Model

The business of the Company is that of an investment trust and the Directors do not envisage any change in this activity in the foreseeable future.  The aim of the Company is to achieve a total return greater than its benchmark by investing predominantly in equities worldwide. Within this objective, the Manager will seek to increase the Company's revenues in order to maintain an above average dividend yield. 

 

The Company's investment objective and financial highlights are detailed below. A review of the Company's activities is given in the Chairman's Statement and the Investment Management Review. The Chairman's Statement includes an analysis of the business of the Company and its principal activities, likely future developments of the business, the recommended dividend and details of any acquisition of its own shares by the Company.

 

Investment Process

The Manager has its own investment process, which, in the case of the Company, is overseen by the Board. The process is summarised below.

 

Investment Objective

The aim of the Company is to achieve a total return greater than its benchmark by investing predominantly in equities worldwide. Within this objective the Manager seeks to increase the Company's revenues in order to maintain an above average dividend yield.

 

Investment Policy

Asset Allocation

The Company's assets are invested in a diversified portfolio of international equities and fixed income securities spread across a range of industries and economies. The Company's investment policy is flexible and it may, from time to time, hold other securities including (but not limited to) index-linked securities, convertible securities, preference shares, unlisted securities, depositary receipts and other equity-related securities. The Company may invest in derivatives for the purposes of efficient portfolio management. The Company's investment policy does not impose any geographical, sectoral or industrial constraints upon the Manager.  The Board has agreed guidelines which the Manager is required to work within from meeting to meeting.  It is the investment policy of the Company to invest no more than 15% of its gross assets in other listed investment companies (including listed investment trusts) at the time of purchase. The Company currently does not have any investments in other investment companies.

 

Risk Diversification

The Manager actively monitors the Company's portfolio and attempts to mitigate risk primarily through diversification. The Company is permitted to invest up to 15% of its investments by value in any single stock (at the time of purchase).

 

Gearing

The Board considers that returns to shareholders can be enhanced by the judicious use of borrowing. The Board is responsible for the level of gearing in the Company and reviews the position on a regular basis. Any borrowing, except for short-term liquidity purposes, is used for investment purposes or to fund the purchase of the Company's own shares. Total gearing will not in normal circumstances exceed 30% of Net Assets with cash deposits netted against the level of borrowings. At the year end there was net gearing of 17.4% (calculated in accordance with AIC guidance) and particular care is taken to ensure that any bank covenants permit maximum flexibility of investment policy.

 

Changes to Investment Policy

Any material change to the investment policy will require the approval of the shareholders by way of an ordinary resolution at a general meeting. The Company will promptly issue an announcement to inform the shareholders and the public of any change of its investment policy.

 

Delivering the Investment Policy

Day-to-day management of the Company's assets has been delegated to the Investment Manager. The Investment Manager invests in a diversified range of international companies in accordance with the investment objective.

 

The portfolio manager, Bruce Stout, has responsibility for portfolio construction across all regional segments. The Aberdeen management team utilises a "Global Equity Buy List" which is constructed by each of the specialist country management teams. This list contains all buy (and hold) recommendations for each management team, which are then used by the portfolio manager as the Company's investment universe. Stock selection is the major source of added value.

 

Top-down investment factors are secondary in the Manager's portfolio construction, with stock diversification rather than formal controls guiding stock and sector weights.  Market capitalisation is not a primary concern.

 

A detailed description of the investment process and risk controls employed by the Manager is disclosed in the Annual Report. A comprehensive analysis of the Company's portfolio is disclosed in the Annual Report including a description of the twenty largest investments, the portfolio of investments by value, attribution analysis, distribution of investments and distribution of equity investments.

 

At the year end the Company's portfolio consisted of 47 equity and 17 bond holdings. The Manager is authorised by the Board to hold between 45 and 150 stocks in the portfolio.

 

Benchmark

The Company's benchmark is a composite index comprising 40% of the FTSE World UK Index and 60% of the FTSE World ex-UK Index.

 

Management

The Company's Alternative Investment Fund Manager is Aberdeen Fund Managers Limited ("AFML") which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority Day to day management of the portfolio is delegated to Aberdeen Asset Managers Limited ("AAM"). AAM and AFML are collectively referred to as the "Investment Manager" or the "Manager".

 

Website

murray-intl.co.uk

 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The Board uses a number of financial performance measures to assess the Company's success in achieving its objective and determine the progress of the Company in pursuing its investment policy.  The main KPIs identified by the Board in relation to the Company which are considered at each Board meeting are as follows:

 

KPI

Description

Performance and NAV

The Board considers the Company's NAV total return figures to be the best indicator of performance over time and these are therefore the main indicators of performance used by the Board. A graph showing the total NAV return against the Benchmark is shown in the Annual Report.

Performance against Benchmark

The Board measures performance against the Benchmark. Graphs showing performance are shown in the Annual Report.  The Board also monitors performance relative to competitor investment trusts over a range of time periods, taking into consideration the differing investment policies and objectives employed by those companies.

Share price (on a total return basis)

The Board also monitors the price at which the Company's shares trade relative to the Benchmark on a total return basis over time. A graph showing the total share price return against the Benchmark is shown in the Annual Report.

 

Discount/Premium to NAV

The discount/premium relative to the NAV per share represented by the share price is closely monitored by the Board. The objective is to avoid large fluctuations in the discount/premium by the use of share buy backs or the issuance of new shares, subject to market conditions.  A graph showing the share price premium/(discount) relative to the NAV is also shown in the Annual Report.

 

Dividend

The Board's aim is to seek to increase the Company's revenues over time in order to maintain an above average dividend yield. Dividends paid over the past 10 years are set out under Financial Highlights below.

Gearing

The Board's aim is to ensure that gearing is kept within the Board's guidelines issued to the Investment Manager.

 

Risk Management

There are a number of risks which, if realised, could have a material adverse effect on the Company and its financial condition, performance and prospects. The Board has undertaken a robust review of the principal risks and uncertainties facing the Company including those that would threaten its business model, future performance, solvency or liquidity.  Those principal risks are disclosed in the table below together with a description of the mitigating actions taken by the Board.  The principal risks associated with an investment in the Company's shares are published monthly on the Company's factsheet or they can be found in the pre-investment disclosure document published by the Manager, both of which are available on the Company's website. Potential issues relating to the work of the Audit Committee are discussed in the Report of the Audit Committee in the annual Report and further detail on financial risks and risk management is disclosed in note 17 to the financial statements.

 

The Board reviews the risks and uncertainties faced by the Company in the form of a risk matrix regularly and a summary of the principal risks is set out below. 

 

Description

Mitigating Action

Investment strategy and objectives - if the Company's investment objective becomes unattractive and the Company fails to adapt to changes in investor demand, the Company may become unattractive to investors, leading to decreased demand for its shares and a widening discount.

The Board keeps the level of discount and/or premium at which the Company's shares trade as well as the investment objective and policy under review and holds an annual strategy meeting where the Board reviews updates from the Investment Manager, investor relations reports and the Broker reports on the market. In addition, the Board is updated at each Board meeting on the make up of and any movements in the shareholder register and the Directors attend meetings with shareholders. 

 

Investment portfolio, investment management - investing outside of the investment restrictions and guidelines set by the Board could result in poor performance and inability to meet the Company's objectives.

The Board sets, and monitors, its investment restrictions and guidelines, and receives regular Board reports which include performance reporting on the implementation of the investment policy, the investment process and application of the guidelines. The Investment Manager attends all Board meetings. The Board also monitors the Company's share price relative to the NAV.

Financial obligations - the ability of the Company to meet its financial obligations, or increasing the level of gearing, could result in the Company becoming over-geared or unable to take advantage of potential opportunities and result in a loss of value to the Company's shares.

The Board sets a gearing limit and receives regular updates on the actual gearing levels the Company has reached from the Investment Manager together with the assets and liabilities of the Company and reviews these at each Board meeting. In addition, AFML, as alternative investment fund manager in conjunction with the Board, has set an overall leverage limit of 2.0x on a commitment basis (2.5x on a gross notional basis) and includes updates to its reports to the Board. 

 

Financial and Regulatory - the financial risks associated with the portfolio could result in losses to the Company. In addition, failure to comply with relevant regulation (including the Companies Act, the Financial Services and Markets Act, the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, Accounting Standards and the FCA's Listing Rules, Disclosure and Prospectus Rules) may have an impact on the Company. 

 

The financial risks associated with the Company include market risk, liquidity risk and credit risk, all of which are mitigated in conjunction with the Investment Manager. Further details of the steps taken to mitigate the financial risks associated with the portfolio are set out in note 17 to the financial statements. The Board relies upon the Aberdeen Group to ensure the Company's compliance with applicable regulations and from time to time employs external advisers to advise on specific concerns.

 

 

 

Operational - the Company is dependent on third parties  for the provision of all systems and services (in particular, those of Aberdeen Asset Management) and any control failures and gaps in these systems and services could result in a loss or damage to the Company.

The Board receives reports from the Investment Manager on internal controls and risk management at each Board meeting. It receives assurances from all its significant service providers, as well as back to back assurance from the Investment Manager at least annually. Further details of the internal controls which are in place are set out in the Annual Report.

 



 

Viability Statement

The Company does not have a formal fixed period strategic plan but the Board formally considers risks and strategy at least annually. The Board considers the Company, with no fixed life, to be a long term investment vehicle but, for the purposes of this viability statement, has decided that a period of five years is an appropriate period over which to report. The Board considers that this period reflects a balance between looking out over a long term horizon and the inherent uncertainties of looking out further than five years.

 

In assessing the viability of the Company over the review period the Directors have focussed upon the following factors:

 

-       The principal risks detailed in the Strategic Report

-       The ongoing relevance of the Company's investment objective in the current environment

-       The demand for the Company's shares evidenced by the historical level of premium and or discount

-       The level of income generated by the Company

-       The liquidity of the Company's portfolio

-       The maturity profile of the Company's £194 million loan facilities which mature between May 2016 and May 2020.

 

Accordingly, taking into account the Company's current position, the fact that the Company's investments are mostly liquid and the potential impact of its principal risks and uncertainties, the Directors have a reasonable expectation that the Company will be able to continue in operation and to meet its liabilities as they fall due for a period of five years from the date of this Report. In making this assessment, the Board has considered that matters such as significant economic or stock market volatility, a substantial reduction in the liquidity of the portfolio or changes in investor sentiment could have an impact on its assessment of the Company's prospects and viability in the future.

 

Promoting the Company

The Board recognises the importance of communicating the long-term attractions of your Company to prospective investors both for improving liquidity and for enhancing the value and rating of the Company's shares.  The Board believes an effective way to achieve this is through subscription to and participation in the promotional programme run by the Aberdeen Group on behalf of a number of investment companies under its management. The Company also supports the Aberdeen Group's investor relations programme which involves regional roadshows, promotional and public relations campaigns. The purpose of these initiatives is both to communicate effectively with existing shareholders and to gain new shareholders with the aim of improving liquidity and enhancing the value and rating of the Company's shares. The Company's financial contribution to the programmes is matched by the Aberdeen Group.  The Aberdeen Group Head of Brand reports quarterly to the Board providing an analysis of the promotional activities as well as updates on the shareholder register and any changes in the make up of that register.

 

Board Diversity

The Board recognises the importance of having a range of skilled, experienced individuals with the right knowledge represented on the Board in order to allow the Board to fulfil its obligations. The Board also recognises the benefits, and is supportive, of the principle of diversity in its recruitment of new Board members.  At 31 December 2015, there were four male Directors and two female Directors on the Board.

 

Environmental, Social and Human Rights Issues

The Company has no employees as the Board has delegated day to day management and administrative functions to Aberdeen Fund Managers Limited. There are therefore no disclosures to be made in respect of employees. The Company's socially responsible investment policy is outlined below.

 

Socially Responsible Investment Policy

The Board acknowledges that there are risks associated with investment in companies which fail to conduct business in a socially responsible manner and has noted the Aberdeen Group's policy on social responsibility. The Investment Manager considers social, environmental and ethical factors which may affect the performance or value of the Company's investments as part of its investment process.  In particular, the Investment Manager encourages companies in which investments are made to adhere to best practice in the area of Corporate Governance. They believe that this can best be achieved by entering into a dialogue with company management to encourage them, where necessary, to improve their policies in this area. The Company's ultimate objective, however, is to deliver superior investment return for its shareholders.

 

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Company has no greenhouse gas emissions to report from the operations of its business, nor does it have responsibility for any other emissions producing sources under the Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors' Reports) Regulations 2013.

 

Kevin Carter

Chairman

11 March 2016

 

 

3.    CHAIRMAN'S STATEMENT

 

Performance

I am disappointed to report that the Company's Net Asset Value ("NAV") not only underperformed its benchmark in 2015 but also declined in absolute terms.  NAV total return of -7.8% inclusive of a 3.3% dividend increase compared unfavourably with a benchmark total return of +2.6%.  In recent annual statements, both I and the Manager have emphasised a firm focus on capital preservation in the construction of the portfolio, and it is therefore a particular frustration that this has not been achieved. There are numerous reasons for this outcome and the Investment Management Review contains an attribution analysis which shows the factors affecting NAV performance. 

 

The benchmark total return was positively affected primarily by the performance of United States equities and to a lesser extent by Japanese equities.  The Company is underweight in both these relatively lower yielding markets. Beyond that, numerous global equity markets declined in Sterling terms with particularly severe corrections in companies exposed to the energy, commodities, utilities and industrial sectors.  Many of our portfolio holdings are in countries and stock markets which were especially affected by these trends.  In addition, performance also suffered from a number of specific stock developments, and details of these can be found in the Investment Management Review.

 

For the third consecutive year, the Company's greater geographical diversification and focus on above average yield proved detrimental to relative total performance, even though revenue generation continued to be robust. 

 

Background

The beginning of 2015 saw a widespread belief that the US Federal Reserve would raise interest rates in response to strong US economic growth, a perception that the worst was over for Europe and anticipation that Japan was at last following an economic prescription which would alleviate its long period of stagnation.   For a time this buoyed up financial assets in these regions but, as the year progressed, it became apparent that the world was also facing deflationary forces with severely weakened commodity prices, especially oil, and a Chinese economy performing much less well than expected.  When the long anticipated tightening of US monetary policy eventually occurred, it was accompanied by widespread criticism of its timing and necessity, and Federal Reserve Chairman Yellen has recently testified to Congress that future rate rises are being deferred for now.  Subsequently, Japan has sunk back into recession and China is in the process of attempting a controlled devaluation of its currency to shore up economic growth.  The weakness of the Chinese economy magnified the severe decline in commodities as China has been the major consumer of these in recent years.  Countries with high dependence on exports to China, either of manufactured goods or commodities, suffered growth and currency declines.  Similar conditions unfortunately also prevailed throughout Europe.  Again, expectations were initially high but gradually deflated over time, even though the European Central Bank continued its money printing intervention.  Towards year end decelerating growth in Germany, so long the global gold standard of export-led efficiency, sparked additional uncertainty over what is next for Europe.  The question as to whether or not the UK should remain in the EU entered the political debate in 2015 but during that early stage seemed to have little impact on the economy.  Instead, expectations over imminent domestic interest rate rises dominated the first half of the year, only to dissipate and disappear as growth slowed.  Even so, persistent strength in Sterling continued with its adverse effects on UK export manufacturers, as well as negatively affecting revenue and capital value translation into the Company.   Against such a backdrop, preserving the capital of the Company proved problematic given its diversified approach and income objective.

 

Dividends

Three interim dividends of 10.5p (2014: three interims of 10.0p) have been declared during the year. Your Board is now recommending a final dividend of 15.0p (2014: 15.0p) which, subject to the approval of shareholders at the Annual General Meeting, will be paid on 18 May 2016 to shareholders on the register on 8 April 2016. Subject to approval of the final dividend, the total Ordinary dividend for the year will amount to 46.5p, an increase of 3.3% from last year (2014: 45.0p). B Ordinary shareholders will receive their capitalisation issue of B Ordinary shares at the same time as each dividend is paid. Accordingly, subject to approval at the Annual General Meeting, B Ordinary shareholders will be issued on 18 May 2016 with new B Ordinary shares equivalent in NAV to the recommended final dividend for the year just ended.  The payment of the final dividend will necessitate a small transfer from the Company's brought forward revenue reserves of approximately £580,000.

 

B Ordinary Share Conversion - Circular to Shareholders

Shareholders' attention is drawn to the Circular that accompanies this Annual Report and which contains details of, and the reasons for, recommended proposals for the final conversion of the B Ordinary shares into Ordinary shares and related amendments to the Articles of Association.

 

Management of Premium and Discount

At the Annual General Meeting held in April 2015, shareholders renewed the annual authorities to issue up to 10% of the Company's issued share capital for cash at a premium and to buy back up to 14.99% of the issued share capital at a discount. During the year, we issued 130,000 new shares. The Board will be seeking approval from shareholders to renew both authorities in 2016 and, as in previous years, new shares would only be issued at a premium to NAV and shares would only be bought back at a discount to NAV. Resolutions to this effect will be proposed at the Annual General Meeting and the Directors strongly encourage shareholders to support this proposal.

 

As I indicated at the interim stage in August, the Board continues to believe that it is appropriate to seek to address temporary imbalances of supply and demand for the Company's shares which might otherwise result in a recurring material discount. Subject to shareholder permission and prevailing market conditions over time, the Board intends to buy back shares if they trade at a persistent discount to NAV (excluding income). As with issuance, the Board believes that this process is in all shareholders' interests as it seeks to reduce volatility in the premium/discount to underlying NAV whilst also making a small positive contribution to the NAV. Subsequent to the period end, we have purchased 601,163 shares in the market at a discount to the underlying NAV and these shares are being held in treasury.  At the time of writing the exclusive of income NAV per share was 885.2p and the share price was 870.0p equating to a discount of 1.7% per Ordinary share. 

 

Gearing

At year end, total borrowings amounted to the equivalent of £194 million representing net gearing (calculated by dividing the total assets less cash by shareholders' funds) of 17.4% (2014: 13.8%) of which approximately £9 million has been drawn in Yen with the remainder drawn in Sterling.  During the year the Company entered into a new £50 million loan facility with The Royal Bank of Scotland plc ("RBS") which was drawn in full on 13 May 2015 and fixed for five years at an all-in rate of 2.4975%. The new facility was used to repay a maturing Yen 8.4 billion loan with RBS. The Company has loans totalling £24 million that are due to mature in May 2016 and the Directors are in the process of reviewing options for those facilities.

 

Management Arrangements

Following a review initiated by your Board, the Board and the Manager are pleased to have agreed a restructuring of the management fee arrangements for the Company. The performance fee is being discontinued and the annual management fee will now be charged on the net assets (ie excluding borrowings for investment purposes) ("Net Assets"), on a tiered basis. These changes will not affect the way that the Company's assets are managed over time.

 

Previously the base level of the annual management fee was set at 0.5% of net assets including borrowings for investment purposes. From 2016 onwards the annual fee will be charged at 0.575% of Net Assets up to £1,200 million, 0.5% of Net Assets between £1,200 million and £1,400 million, and 0.425% of Net Assets above £1,400 million. At present levels of gearing and Net Assets this is a small fee reduction but the reduction becomes greater once Net Assets exceed £1,200 million, and greater still above £1,400 million.

 

We are also changing the termination notice period of the management contract from 12 months to 6 months, more in keeping with market practice. The above arrangements will take effect from 1 January 2016. I am pleased that this collaborative exercise between the Board and the Manager has produced a beneficial outcome for shareholders.

 

Annual General Meeting

This year's Annual General Meeting will be held in London on 26 April 2016 at 12.30 p.m. at the Mermaid Conference Centre, Puddle Dock, London EC4V 3DB. As at previous AGMs, there will be a presentation from the Manager and an opportunity to meet the Directors and Manager over lunch. I should be grateful if you would confirm your attendance by completing the separate notice that will accompany the Annual Report and returning it together with an indication of any particular questions.  I hope as many shareholders as possible will be able to attend.

 

Directorate

Having served as a Director since 2003, Lady Balfour has indicated that she intends to retire from the Board at the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting on 26 April 2016 and will not be seeking re-election. On behalf of my fellow Directors I should like to take this opportunity to thank Lady Balfour for her considerable contribution to the affairs of the Company, and wise counsel over the years including her chairing of the Remuneration Committee, and more recently her assistance in the role of Senior Independent Director.  The Board is in the process of undertaking a detailed search for her replacement using the services of an independent external recruitment consultancy and expects to update shareholders on the outcome of that process in due course.  With effect from the conclusion of the AGM, Mr Best has agreed to become Senior Independent Director and Mr Dunscombe has agreed to become Chairman of the Remuneration Committee.

 

Viability Statement

For the first time this year your Board is required to assess the viability of the Company.  In assessing the viability we have looked out over a five year period which we believe is appropriate for the Company given its longer term investment mandate and the composition of the portfolio.  In formulating our opinion contained in the Viability Statement, the Directors have reviewed the Company's principal risks, liquidity of the portfolio, the timing of debt maturities and likely demand for the Company's shares.

 

Outlook

2016 has begun with considerable market volatility as investors attempt to decipher the complex economic and interest rate environment ahead.  We have had several years of stock market performance characterised by divergence between performance and fundamentals.  A relentless rise in equity market valuations without the support of profit growth has occurred simultaneously with an evident deterioration in economic fundamentals.  Supported by abundant liquidity and dwindling alternative options, investors have been prepared to pay higher and higher prices for equities.  Low yielding growth stocks have constantly and consistently outperformed higher yielding value stocks with sectors such as biotechnology, healthcare and technology leading the indices higher. 

 

Against this backdrop, the Company's yield focused, value conscious, diversified portfolio style has struggled to keep up.  The question is how likely and long this will continue.  Whatever the answer, sufficient cracks are widening in the global financial system to suggest great caution is warranted.  Protecting capital and income in such a financial world will not be straightforward.  At the time of writing, on a total return basis, year to date NAV has risen 8.1% while the Company's benchmark index has declined 0.9%.

 

Your Board has conducted a strategic review with the Manager to consider its response to these difficult conditions and continues to believe in the principles of broad portfolio diversification, emphasis on high quality businesses and focusing on companies with strong balance sheets.  The Board and the Manager remain committed to this approach as the best portfolio strategy to pursue in order to achieve the Company's investment objective.

 

Kevin Carter

Chairman

11 March 2016

 

 

4.    INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT REVIEW

 

Background

To some people, familiarity breeds contempt.  To others, it is a source of constant comfort.  To most, it provides confidence, clarity and conviction on which to act. Remove the familiar, it's said, and sanity soon follows. Nowhere does this more regularly occur than in financial markets. History is littered with examples of arrogance discarding the familiar for self-justification - "it's different this time, profits and dividends don't matter, business cycles and market forces are dead, a new paradigm for all to see".  When such contempt arises, the financial consequences are seldom redeeming.

 

Structurally plagued by unrecognisable economic fundamentals, yet possessing unquestioning conviction that nothing is seriously untoward, the financial world ignored escalating dissonance between familiarity and contempt over the review period.  Policymakers positively proclaimed progress towards economic normalisation despite virtually no conclusive evidence in support.  Politicians preached fiscal prudence and balanced budgets, yet most sovereign debt liabilities deteriorated further. Economists declared declining energy prices to be the theoretical panacea for depressed global consumption but already over-indebted consumers preferred to save rather than spend.  Projections relative to reality for both inflation and interest rates also failed to impress.  Most Central Banks targeted "normal" inflation of around two percent.  In the event, inflation declined towards zero in most of the developed world.  Predicting imminent higher interest rates at the beginning of 2015, only the United States dared to tentatively tighten by year end.  Scurrying in the opposite direction, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan kept up the pace of monetary expansion through continued quantitative easing.  Beleaguered savers remained victims of financing fiscal largesse, with zero interest rates effectively eliminating any income returns.  This absurdity descended into farce in Europe. Prevailing negative bond yields witnessed savers paying heavily indebted European governments for the privilege of lending to them!  Extraordinary to believe, guaranteed capital-loss investment proved popular amongst bond investors in Europe throughout 2015.

 

The cult of equity buybacks again thrived in the United States where precious corporate cash flow retired record amounts of stock at record high valuations. Capital investment, vital to secure future growth and profitability, again constantly being sacrificed at the altar of short termism.  Corporate defaults throughout the world remained at record lows as no-one dared to question deteriorating credit quality.  With over twenty developed world economies hostage to private and public sector debt above two hundred per cent of National Income, surely some-one, somewhere could not pay.  The mask of respectability held firm, despite a constant stream of unrecognisable indicators emerging.  To those familiar with history, nothing was familiar. Whilst at best disconcerting, and at worst downright dangerous, the most unsettling aspect is how ambivalent the world has become to the prevailing distorted financial landscape.  Current economics, markets, geopolitics and demographics may confound the laws of rational behaviour and common sense, yet few are prepared to acknowledge the fact.  The collective denial casts an eerie silence over the reality of an increasingly unrealistic world.

 

Investor sentiment obsessed excessively over interest rates, deflation and China throughout 2015, occasionally mutating into angst when data disappointed.  Financial markets craving normality were constantly starved of any meaningful confirmation.  Periodic bouts of volatility reflected recurring moodswings of uncertainty, primarily prompted by ambiguous economic data. Developed market sovereign bonds proved particularly vulnerable.  Oscillating between rising interest rate paranoia and deflationary concerns, bond yields touched historical lows and unjustified highs.  For investors seeking stability and predictability, global bond markets offered little solace. 

 

Equity market returns also witnessed a torrid twelve months.  Weighed down by constant weakness in Energy and Commodities, plus downward pressure on dividends, the UK market suffered a negative total return.  Pumped up by printed money and political promiscuity, European markets defied deepening deflationary disquiet to deliver mid-single digit positive returns in Sterling terms.  Whilst the portfolio's heavily skewed defensively orientated exposure to Switzerland delivered desired capital preservation, individual stock weakness in France negated overall net returns from the region.  Asia ex Japan disappointed for the third consecutive year in terms of market returns.  Positive portfolio stock returns from defensive Consumer Staples and Telecommunications businesses in Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan were welcomed, but the spectre of declining Chinese growth and currency weakness loomed large.  The unexpected exception was Japan.  A crippled economy, unsustainable debt dynamics and deteriorating demographics proved no constraint on sentiment.  Japanese equity market returns of +17.6% in Sterling terms far exceeded its nearest challenger for best performing global "region" in 2015.  Divergence of market and portfolio returns were most pronounced in the Americas.  Whilst a low, asset weighting to benchmark heavyweight the United States deleted relative performance, strong defensive stock selection delivered double digit capital returns in a market up 6.9%.  Similarly a +15.7% return from 10% exposure in Mexico delivered against a market which declined 9.2%.  Unfortunately excessive currency weakness and commodity exposure in Canada and Brazil negated total relative North and South American regional returns.  In aggregate, the overall portfolio objective to preserve capital proved untenable over the timeframe.  Diversification of assets, currency exposure, sectors and stocks with a value and higher yield bias fell short of delivering desired results against an increasingly narrow and expensive market backdrop.

 

Performance

The NAV total return for the year to 31 December 2015 with net dividends reinvested was -7.8% compared with a return on the benchmark of +2.6%.  A full attribution analysis is given in the Annual Report, which details the various influences on portfolio performance.  In summary, of the 870 basis points (before expenses) of performance below the benchmark, asset allocation detracted 670 basis points and stock selection a further 200 basis points.  Structural effects relating to the fixed income portfolio and gearing, net of borrowing and hedging costs, deleted a further 180 basis points of relative performance.

 

North America

The drama that has become US monetary policy continued to captivate its worldwide audience throughout the year.  The unanswered question remained when the US Federal Reserve might raise interest rates.  Cyclical optimists expected normalisation to begin, just as they did last year and the year before.  Popular perception professed robust economic health for the US economy, constantly emphasising improvements.  For the more objective observer, scant evidence existed to support such optimism. 

 

Economic growth remained muted, the eagerly anticipated boost to consumption from collapsing oil prices failing to materialise.  Heavily indebted Americans, fearing rising job insecurity, preferred to pay down debt and save more.  As debate raged around the need, timing and justification of potential interest rate hikes, further ambiguity festered within the fragile US economy.  The housing market, so often deemed a barometer of US economic affluence, stagnated in the vacuum of policy uncertainty. Support from increased capital investment never looked likely given corporate America's addiction to buying back stock. New depths were breached with cheap debt being aggressively accrued to retire expensive equity, leaving corporate balance sheets increasingly stretched.  Somewhat ominously, total US equity buybacks surpassed the previous historical record set in 2007 and at generally much higher valuations.  Lack of conclusive wage pressures, lingering excessive productive capacity, worryingly anaemic credit conditions and subdued confidence presented a challenging contradiction to those confident of US prosperity.  Unbowed by inconclusive economic evidence, and ignoring protesting pleas, the US Monetary Authorities raised the benchmark interest rate in December. Those hostage to onerous debt servicing obligations vexed over implicit negative consequences from the first such monetary tightening in over nine years.  One thing became crystal clear.  Life was about to get increasingly tough for lenders and borrowers alike.  At the coalface of such unconventional capitalism, American corporates wrestled with declining profit margins, pressures on selling prices and constraints from a strong US dollar.  Portfolio exposure, focused on defensive consumer staple and telecommunication businesses, performed well in the United States, but the Canadian holding in Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan continued to restrain overall North American performance. Excess supply and below trend demand meant the global potash market remained painfully out of equilibrium.  A further 13% appreciation of Sterling against the Canadian Dollar merely accentuated difficulties.  With numerous negative influences now arguably discounted, the outlook for this industry, and Canadian exporters in general, should improve. North American portfolio strategy will continue to focus on capital preservation and income enhancement from relatively low investment exposure.

 

UK

It is said that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.  Consensus opinion constantly believing Britain to be the strongest economy in Europe in 2015 obviously missed the irony. Smugly conceited, not-to-mention statistically inaccurate (Ireland expanded over 6%), such rhetoric captured the climate of denial that prevailed. Not that it was unreasonable to expect as much.  The politics of persuasion dictate positivity must be portrayed at all times.  A message of prosperity to those who have, and of hope to those who have not, even when the evidence suggests otherwise.  Economic evidence showed an economy flirting with deflation early in the year, and similarly constrained twelve months later.  With consumer price inflation consistently reported around zero, the Bank of England's target rate was never achieved.  Structural distortions to UK consumption, escalating debt repayment pressures and wage stagnation combined to deflate rather than inflate the UK economy.  Yet financial markets, groomed for imminent interest rate rises, worried constantly over circumstances increasingly unlikely to evolve. 

 

The mood of uncertainty periodically spilled over into fragile business confidence where Sterling strength and sluggish demand curtailed manufacturing activity and investment. Reduced oil revenues stalled fiscal improvements, but it was excessive current account deterioration which arguably deserved greatest reproach.  Long subscribing to the view that unsustainable external deficits do not matter, the UK monetary authorities ignore this imbalance at their peril.  To fund such fiscal, trade and income deficits the UK finds itself structurally dependent on constantly selling assets to foreigners (land, property, bonds and financial assets).  In simple terms, the UK continues to live way beyond its means.  Prevailing uninspiring fundamentals plus an EU membership referendum significantly raise the risk that foreign financing may "dry up".  Capital flight and/or currency weakness have historically accompanied such circumstances - why should it be any different this time?  Close to historical lows in "Sterling asset" portfolio exposure reflect an already cautious view towards the UK and UK companies.  Although 2015 equity market returns were in line with negative expectations, performance of the Trust's UK portfolio proved particularly disappointing both on an absolute and relative basis.  Stock price declines at Standard Chartered, Royal Dutch Shell, Weir Group and BHP Billiton all proved problematic.  Whilst compelling value is deemed to exist in these companies, patience will likely be required before their full potential can be reached.  Given the magnitude of prevailing negative sentiment, expected market returns are unlikely to be anything other than uninspiring.

 

Europe

The economic battlefield that characterised and dictated policy directives in Europe last year was mired in argument and division.  The European Central Bank began the year by unleashing quantitative easing on predominately stagnant European economies.  The justification was to prevent a downward deflationary spiral gathering momentum.  The exception, of course, was Germany where booming exports and balanced fiscal accounts remained the envy of all.  Publicly opposed to printing money yet privately benefitting from associated Euro weakness, Germany argued against such unorthodox policy.  Faced with increasing austerity in peripheral Europe and stubbornly high unemployment throughout the region, the ECB maintained it had no choice.  Bowing down in homage to popular opinion, the ECB duly turned on the monetary taps causing a precipitous fall in the Euro.  Financial markets responded in true Pavlovian fashion, with equities rising and bond yields falling.  Savers suffered significantly as deposit rates in banks and shorter duration bond yields turned nominally negative.  Scant attention was paid to relative credit quality as sovereign bond yields collapsed in response to policy rhetoric of "whatever it takes".  Unfortunately such joy there was proved short lived. 

 

Manipulating higher European asset prices failed to translate into positive economic traction, echoing the outcomes of such flawed economic policy when previously inflicted on the US and UK.  The futility of such action is self-evident.  For consumption based economies, like Europe, printing money fails to reignite credit growth and establish economic traction for one simple reason.  Despite inflating European household wealth, such assets tend to be owned by the rich who generally have a low marginal propensity to consume.  Conversely the poor, with a much higher propensity to consume, tend to own most of the debt. The so called "wealth effect" of inflated valuations is thus rendered impotent. No improvement in consumption yet simultaneously creating increasing inequality and an enormous escalation in sovereign debt.  Such conditions plagued the European backdrop in 2015.  As internal divisions widened amongst policymakers, the social fabric began to fray.  Increased agitation from the political right, escalating rejection of austerity and widespread disillusionment with market dynamics, clouded an increasingly opaque outlook in Europe.  Despite positive defensive contributions from 7% exposure to Switzerland, individual stock weakness in emerging market focused French retailer Casino and oil services company Tenaris, deleted portfolio value on both an absolute and relative basis.  For a region universally touted as possessing most potential by an optimistic consensus at the beginning of 2015, overall returns proved ultimately disappointing in Sterling terms.  It is difficult to envisage this year as being much better.

 

Latin America

A seven per cent total return decline from portfolio exposure to Latin America also added to constrained overall performance. Significant gains in Mexico proved insufficient to offset stock and currency weakness in Brazil.  From Rio de Janeiro to the Rio Grande, economic uncertainty and widespread risk aversion prevailed.  History and mistrust combined to exert enormous pressure on financial assets and currencies. Memories of twenty years ago, when Latin America previously endured similar challenging economic conditions related to US interest rate policy, were constantly aired. Distorted by time and prejudice, such recollections were in no mood to differentiate between good and bad. Yet Mexican fragility, the catalytic epicentre for economic havoc unleashed across the region two decades ago, had long since disappeared.  Current circumstances bear little resemblance to the past.  Significant savings, strong foreign direct investment, robust local currency denominated bond markets and competitive exporters characterise a country respectful of reform and stability. Nevertheless, perceived vulnerability to international capital dependency kept investors fearful and created downward pressure on the Peso.  The Mexican stockmarket return of -9.2% bore testimony to this, but portfolio exposure fared much better.  Large holdings in Grupo Asur, Femsa and Kimberly Clark de Mexico delivered solid profit and dividend growth, leading to a strong positive total return of 15.7%. 

 

Unfortunately, offsetting such resilience were negative contributions from Brazil.  Political impotency, financial scandal and economic recession polluted the Brazilian financial landscape.  Demands for Presidential impeachment and radical policy directives periodically surfaced in response to prevailing economic paralysis.  For the most part such pleas fell on deaf ears.  Historically accustomed to financial feast or famine, Brazilian nationals had seen it all before.  While domestic corporates adjusted downwards costs and spending plans, international companies eyed bargain-basement prices increasingly reflected in Brazilian assets.  Foreign direct investment poured in, capitalising on distressed sellers and attractive acquisition opportunities.  Under such conditions, the portfolio core holding in Souza Cruz was bought out by its parent British American Tobacco.  Significantly enhancing both capital and income returns over the past decade, replicating such stability this position provided would not be easy.  Consequently the realised funds were reinvested elsewhere.  Residual Brazilian equity exposure of 3%, concentrated in four companies, offers the paradox that repeatedly characterises Brazil.  Globally competitive businesses but lack of near-term transparency; historically low valuations but emotionally inspired risk aversion; attractive growth opportunities clouded by recurring macro-economic mismanagement.  Experience suggests when such despondency prevails, any unexpected positive event can have significant implications for asset price reflation.  After two turbulent years, an internationally vilified and discredited Brazil is likely to prove consensus wrong.

 

Japan and Asia

Pushing on a string. Plagued by stagnant wages, rapidly ageing demographics and dwindling savings, expectations of Japan spending its way to salvation remained unfoundedly optimistic.  For the third consecutive year the disconnect between fact and fiction widened.  Printing money and manipulating bond yields towards zero, the Bank of Japan clung to dogmatic hope.  Expecting such actions would impel its citizens to drawdown savings and spend, unorthodox monetary madness continued unabated.  The unanswered question remained why?  You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.  You can cut interest rates to zero but you can't make people spend.  So it proved for Japanese savers and consumers alike.  Faced with higher taxes, weaker purchasing power and insipid wage growth, cautious consumer confidence prevailed.  Central Bank hopes to ignite inflation were all but extinguished as domestic deflationary pressures kept a vice-like grip on prices.  Pockets of inflation stayed confined to essential imports made more expensive by a depreciating currency.  Watching their standard of living endlessly eroding, Japanese consumers understandably favoured frugality and thrift.  Employment insecurity increasingly surfaced as Japanese companies sought further cost savings.  With weakening worldwide demand for capital investment negatively impacting robotics and manufacturing equipment orders, an economic gloom descended throughout most industrial sectors.  Disappointing domestic exports are arguably symptomatic of the futility of present day macro-economic policy in Japan.  Neither stimulative of consumption, investment nor inflation, the associated currency devaluation fails to reinvigorate exports whilst simultaneously eroding individual wealth.  Seldom has such obsessive pursuit of monetary directives been so irrational and irresponsible.  Sadly who ultimately pays for such expensive misadventure could haunt Japan for generations.

Defining moments in history manifest themselves in many distinguished guises, but currency devaluations seldom spring to mind.  Unless, that is, in Asia.  Seared into most global investors psyches are capital destroying devaluations in Hong Kong (1983), China (1994), Thailand and Malaysia (1997) to name but a few.  Against such previous debasement China's recent Renminbi "adjustment" of under 5% since August appeared miniscule in devaluation folklore.  Arithmetically it clearly was, but psychologically it proved seismic in proportion.  Initially sending shockwaves around global financial markets, surprise descended into sobriety over all things China.  Intense scrutiny of Chinese growth, Chinese debt, Chinese credit quality, Chinese policy and Chinese capital flows ensured the focus of global attention increasingly faced towards the Orient.  Confronting the challenge of repositioning the second largest economy in the world towards rising consumption from established investment led growth, the Chinese Authorities acted accordingly.  Having endured constantly eroding competitiveness through an appreciating currency peg since 2005, the intent was clear.  China would no longer tolerate competitive devaluations against its currency.  The threat was also crystal clear.  Should China embrace the global competitive devaluation merry-go-round so favoured by Western central banks since 2008, the balance of power in an increasingly inter-dependent world would irrevocably shift.  Through a weakened currency, China could exert a further deflationary shock presenting genuine systemic risk for numerous heavily indebted nations.  Having attracted the world's attention, an increasingly nervous global audience now awaits future developments.  Against a backdrop of China-induced neurosis, progress elsewhere in Asia was always going to prove difficult.  The regional index recorded a negative total return of -4.4% in Sterling terms.  Whilst positive stock selection enhanced relative performance, overall capital depreciation still occurred.  Absolute strength in Indonesia and Taiwan contributed welcome positive returns in both capital and income.  Defensive stock selection in Singapore mitigated overall market declines whilst having no exposure to China and Korea avoided potential negative returns.  Whilst dividends in general remained robust, weaker currencies reduced overall accrued income.  Importantly, portfolio exposure coped relatively well with prevailing uncertainty, leaving plenty of scope for operational improvements should interest rate cuts and currency appreciation evolve in line with expectations.

 

Outlook

Predicting the future against a backdrop of unrecognisable factors is arguably futile.  The global economic landscape that prevails today cannot be found in any textbook or indeed in the historical experience of even the most seasoned investor.  It is most definitely unfamiliar.  From an economic perspective events of the past few years make no sense!  Governments across the globe have expanded sovereign balance sheets beyond breaking point through irresponsible excessive money creation to achieve virtually nothing.  Growth in the developed world constantly disappoints, debt levels have expanded significantly and living standards, at best, have stagnated. Sadly none of this should come as a surprise. Failure to grasp the nettle of chronic debt dependency and unsustainable consumption expectations remain the Developed world's Achilles heel. Politically unpalatable and economically unviable, realistic redress is constantly shunned by policymakers persistently procrastinating with less painful options.  Artificially depressing bond yields may have bailed out the banks, but responsible savers still foot the bill.  Yet still the unorthodox monetary intervention continues.  It is common knowledge that repeatedly pursuing the same actions expecting a different outcome is the definition of madness. 

 

Unfortunately the stated aims and actions of numerous Central Banks today are symptomatic of exactly that.  Against such a backdrop of unfamiliarity and uncertainty, investment must focus on what is familiar.  Good companies, possessing strong balance sheets producing affordable products people need offer potential stability.  Where geography of origin or market periodically attracts scorn then opportunities to acquire at discounted valuations will be embraced.  Global diversification, firmly out of fashion in an increasingly concentrated global financial landscape, will be maintained.  Whilst anything other than a challenging year ahead with potentially increased volatility appears unlikely, Murray International will continue to strive to navigate a smoother course in pursuit of its investment objectives.

 

Bruce Stout

Aberdeen Asset Managers Limited

Senior Investment Manager

11 March 2016

 

 

5.    EXTRACTS FROM THE DIRECTORS' REPORT

 

Investment Trust Status

The Company is registered as a public limited company (registered in Scotland No. SC006705) and has been accepted by HM Revenue & Customs as an investment trust subject to the Company continuing to meet the relevant eligibility conditions of Section 1158 of the Corporation Tax Act 2010 and the ongoing requirements of Part 2 Chapter 3 Statutory Instrument 2011/2999 for all financial years commencing on or after 1 January 2012.  The Directors are of the opinion that the Company has conducted its affairs for the year ended 31 December 2015 so as to enable it to comply with the ongoing requirements for investment trust status.

 

Capital Structure, Issuance and Buybacks

The Company's capital structure is summarised in note 14 to the financial statements.  At 31 December 2015, there were 127,601,952 fully paid Ordinary shares of 25p each (2014 - 127,361,901 Ordinary shares) in issue and 910,364 B Ordinary shares in issue (2014 - 975,063) representing 99.3% and 0.7% respectively of the total issued capital.  At the year end there were no Ordinary shares or B Ordinary shares held in treasury (2014 - nil).

 

During the year 130,000 new Ordinary shares were issued for cash at a premium to the prevailing NAV per share; 45,352 new B Ordinary shares were issued by way of capitalisation issue in lieu of dividends; and, 110,051 B Ordinary shares were converted into new Ordinary shares.  During the year no Ordinary shares were purchased in the market for treasury or cancellation.

 

Subsequent to the period end 601,163 Ordinary shares have been purchased in the market at a discount for treasury and no new Ordinary shares were issued for cash at a premium to the prevailing NAV per share or sold from treasury. A further 11,808 new B Ordinary shares were issued by way of capitalisation issue in February 2016 in lieu of the third interim dividend .

 

Voting Rights

Ordinary and B Ordinary shareholders are entitled to vote on all resolutions which are proposed at general meetings of the Company. The Ordinary shares carry a right to receive dividends and whenever a cash dividend is paid on the Ordinary shares, B Ordinary shareholders are entitled to a bonus issue of B Ordinary shares.  Each capitalisation issue is equivalent in asset value to the equivalent dividend being paid but excluding any tax credit thereon.  On a winding up, after meeting the liabilities of the Company, the surplus assets will be paid to Ordinary and B Ordinary shareholders in proportion to their shareholdings.  Shareholders' attention is drawn to the Circular that accompanies this Annual Report proposing changes to the rights of the B Ordinary shares and a final conversion opportunity in 2016.

 

Borrowings

During the year the Company agreed a new £50 million loan facility with The Royal Bank of Scotland which was drawn in full in May 2015 and fixed for five years at an all-in rate of 2.4975%.  The new facility was used to repay a Yen 8.4 billion loan facility that matured in May 2015.

 

Management and Secretarial Arrangements

The Company has appointed Aberdeen Fund Managers Limited ("AFML"), a wholly owned subsidiary of Aberdeen Asset Management PLC, as its alternative investment fund manager under the terms of an investment management agreement dated 14 July 2014. Under the terms of the agreement, the Company's portfolio is managed by Aberdeen by way of a group delegation agreement in place between AFML and Aberdeen.

 

Investment management services are provided to the Company by AFML. Company secretarial, accounting and administrative services have been delegated by AFML to Aberdeen Asset Management PLC.

 

The Board considers the continued appointment of the Manager on the terms agreed to be in the interests of the shareholders as a whole because the Aberdeen Asset Management Group has the investment management, secretarial, promotional and administrative skills required for the effective operation of the Company.

 

Management Fees from 1 January 2016

With effect from 1 January 2016, the Board and the Manager have agreed a new basis for calculating the Company's management fees payable to AFML.  The performance fee has been discontinued and the annual management fee will now be charged on net assets (ie excluding borrowings for investment purposes) averaged over the six previous quarters ("Net Assets"), on a tiered basis. The annual management fee will now be charged at 0.575% of Net Assets up to £1,200 million, 0.5% of Net Assets between £1,200 million and £1,400 million, and 0.425% of Net Assets above £1,400 million.  Included in the charge of 0.575% above is a secretarial fee of £100,000 per annum which is chargeable 100% to revenue.  A fee of 1.5% per annum remains chargeable on the value of any unlisted investments. The investment management fee is chargeable 30% against revenue and 70% against realised capital reserves. No fees are charged in the case of investments managed or advised by the Aberdeen Asset Management Group. The management agreement may now be terminated by either party on the expiry of six month's written notice. On termination the Manager would be entitled to receive fees which would otherwise have been due up to that date.

 

The above changes to the management fee arrangements constitute a smaller related party transaction for the purpose of LR 11.1.10 R of the Financial Conduct Authority's Listing Rules.

 

Management Fees up to 31 December 2015

For the year ended 31 December 2015, the management and secretarial fees payable to AFML were calculated and charged on the old basis with an investment management fee payable to AFML of 0.5% per annum of the value of total assets, less unlisted investments and all current liabilities excluding monies borrowed to finance the investment objectives of the Company, averaged over the six previous quarters. A fee of 1.5% per annum is charged on the value of unlisted investments. The investment management fee is chargeable 30% against revenue and 70% against realised capital reserves.

 

Included in the charge of 0.5% above there was a secretarial fee of £100,000 per annum which was chargeable 100% to revenue.  In addition, the Manager was entitled to a performance fee on the basis of (i) a fee of 5% of the first 2% of any outperformance of the Company's net asset total return over that of its benchmark; and (ii) a fee of 10% of any additional outperformance against the benchmark. The total amount of the fee earned by the Manager in any one year (comprising the basic management fee and the performance fee) was capped at 0.8% of the average value of the Company's total assets less current liabilities. Any performance fee was paid in equal instalments over a four year period with any future underperformance offset against the fee payable.

 

No fees were charged in the case of investments managed or advised by the Aberdeen Asset Management Group. The management agreement could be terminated by either party on the expiry of one year's written notice.

 

Risk Management

Details of the financial risk management policies and objectives relative to the use of financial instruments by the Company are set out in note 17 to the financial statements.

 

The Board

The Board currently consists of six non-executive Directors.  The names and biographies of each of the six Directors who served during the year are disclosed in the Annual Report indicating their range of experience as well as length of service. The whole Board will retire at the AGM in April 2016 and, with the exception of Lady Balfour, each Director will stand for re-election. Lady Balfour has indicated that she will be retiring from the Board at the conclusion of the AGM in April 2016. Mr Best has agreed to become Senior Independent Director with effect from the retirement of Lady Balfour. The Board considers that there is a balance of skills and experience within the Board relevant to the leadership and direction of the Company and that all the Directors contribute effectively.

 

In common with most investment trusts, the Company has no employees. Directors' & Officers' liability insurance cover has been maintained throughout the year at the expense of the Company. The Company's Articles of Association provide an indemnity to the Directors out of the assets of the Company against any liability incurred in defending proceedings or in connection with any application to the Court in which relief is granted.

 

Policy on Tenure

The Board's policy on tenure is that Directors need not serve on the Board for a limited period of time only. The Board does not consider that the length of service of a Director is as important as the contribution he or she has to make, and therefore the length of service will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Each Director retires annually at the AGM voluntarily and being eligible offers themselves for re-election.

 

Management of Conflicts of Interest

The Board has a procedure in place to deal with a situation where a Director has a conflict of interest, as required by the Companies Act 2006. As part of this process, the Directors are required to disclose other positions held and all other conflict situations that may need to be authorised either in relation to the Director concerned or his or her connected persons. The Board considers each Director's situation and decides whether to approve any conflict, taking into consideration what is in the best interests of the Company and whether the Director's ability to act in accordance with his wider duties is affected. Each Director is required to notify the Company Secretary of any potential or actual conflict situations that will need authorising by the Board. Authorisations given by the Board are reviewed at each Board meeting.

 

No Director has a service contract with the Company although Directors are issued with letters of appointment upon appointment. The Directors' interests in contractual arrangements with the Company are as shown in note 20 to the financial statements. No other Directors had any interest in contracts with the Company during the period or subsequently.

 

The Company has a policy of conducting its business in an honest and ethical manner. The Company takes a zero tolerance approach to bribery and corruption and has procedures in place that are proportionate to the Company's circumstances to prevent them. The Manager also adopts a group-wide zero tolerance approach and has its own detailed policy and procedures in place to prevent bribery and corruption. Copies of the Manager's anti-bribery and corruption policies are available on its website aberdeen-asset.com.

 

Corporate Governance

The Company is committed to high standards of corporate governance. The Board is accountable to the Company's shareholders for good governance and, as required by the Listing Rules of the UK Listing Authority, has applied the principles identified in the UK Corporate Governance Code (published in September 2014 and effective for financial years commencing on or after 1 October 2014) for the year ended 31 December 2015. The UK Corporate Governance Codes are available on the Financial Reporting Council's website: frc.org.uk.

 

The Board has considered the principles and recommendations of the AIC Code of Corporate Governance as published in February 2015 (AIC Code) by reference to the AIC Corporate Governance Guide for Investment Companies (AIC Guide). The AIC Code, as explained by the AIC Guide, addresses all the principles set out in the UK Corporate Governance Code, as well as setting out additional principles and recommendations on issues which are of specific relevance to the Company. Both the AIC Code and the AIC Guide are available on the AIC's website: theaic.co.uk.

 

The Company has complied throughout the accounting period with the relevant provisions contained within the AIC Code and the relevant provisions of the UK Corporate Governance Code except as set out below.

 

The UK Corporate Governance Code includes provisions relating to:

 

-   the role of the chief executive (A.1.2);

-   executive directors' remuneration (D.2.1 and D.2.2);

-   and the need for an internal audit function (C.3.5).

 

For the reasons set out in the AIC Code, and as explained in the UK Corporate Governance Code, the Board considers that these provisions are not relevant to the position of the Company, being an externally-managed investment company. In particular, all of the Company's day-to-day management and administrative functions are outsourced to third parties. As a result, the Company has no executive directors, employees or internal operations. The Company has therefore not reported further in respect of these provisions. The full text of the Company's Corporate Governance Statement can be found on the Company's website, murray-intl.co.uk.

 

Directors have attended Board and Committee meetings during the year ended 31 December 2015 as follows (with their eligibility to attend the relevant meeting in brackets):

 


Board

Other Board

Nom Com

Audit

Com

MEC

K J Carter A

6 (6)

2 (2)

1(1)

n/a

1 (1)

Lady Balfour of Burleigh

6 (6)

2 (2)

1(1)

3 (3)

1 (1)

J D Best

6 (6)

1 (2)

1(1)

3 (3)

1 (1)

M Campbell

6 (6)

2 (2)

1(1)

3 (3)

1 (1)

P W Dunscombe

6 (6)

2 (2)

1(1)

3 (3)

1 (1)

D Hardie

6 (6)

2 (2)

1(1)

3 (3)

1 (1)

 

A Dr Carter is not a member of either the Audit Committee or the Remuneration Committee but

attended all Committee meetings by invitation

 

Board Committees

Audit Committee

The Report of the Audit Committee is contained in the Annual Report.

 

Management Engagement Committee (MEC)

The MEC comprises all of the Directors. Dr Carter is the Chairman. The Committee reviews the performance of the Investment Manager and its compliance with the terms of the management and secretarial agreement. The terms and conditions of the Investment Manager's appointment, including an evaluation of fees, are reviewed by the Committee on an annual basis. The Committee believes that the continuing appointment of the Manager on the new terms that have been agreed is in the interests of shareholders as a whole.

 

Nomination Committee

All appointments to the Board of Directors are considered by the Nomination Committee which comprises the entire Board and is chaired by Dr Carter. The Board's overriding priority in appointing new Directors to the Board is to identify the candidate with the best range of skills and experience to complement existing Directors. The Board also recognises the benefits of diversity and its policy on diversity is referred to in the Strategic Report.  When Board positions become available as a result of retirement or resignation, the Company ensures that a diverse group of candidates is considered.

 

The Committee has put in place the necessary procedures to conduct, on an annual basis, an appraisal of the Chairman of the Board, Directors' individual self evaluation and a performance evaluation of the Board as a whole. For the year to 31 December 2015 this was undertaken by Stephenson & Co an independent external board evaluation service provider that does not have any other connections with the Company. The review concluded that the Board has a good balance of experience and considerable knowledge of investment markets and works in a collegiate and effective manner.

 

In accordance with Principle 3 of the AIC's Code of Corporate Governance which recommends that the directors of FTSE 350 companies should be subject to annual re-election by shareholders, all the members of the Board will retire at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting and, with the exception of Lady Balfour, will offer themselves for re-election.  In conjunction with the external evaluation feedback the Committee has reviewed each of the proposed reappointments and concluded that each of the Directors has the requisite high level and range of business and financial experience and recommends their re-election at the forthcoming AGM.  Lady Balfour has indicated that she will retire from the Board and as Senior Independent Director at the AGM and does not intend to seek re-election.  Mr Best has agreed to become Senior Independent Director with effect from the conclusion of the AGM in April 2016.

 

Remuneration Committee

The level of fees payable to Directors is considered by the Remuneration Committee which comprises the entire Board excluding Dr Carter and which is Chaired by Lady Balfour.  Mr Dunscombe will become Chairman of the Remuneration Committee with effect from the conclusion of the AGM in April 2016.

 

The Company's remuneration policy is to set remuneration at a level to attract individuals of a calibre appropriate to the Company's future development. Further information on remuneration is disclosed in the Directors' Remuneration Report.

 

Terms of Reference

The terms of reference of all the Board Committees may be found on the Company's website murray-intl.co.uk and copies are available from the Company Secretary upon request. The terms of reference are reviewed and re-assessed by the Board for their adequacy on an annual basis.

 

Going Concern

The Directors have undertaken a robust review of the Company's viability (refer to statement in Strategic Report) and ability to continue as a going concern. The Company's assets consist of a diverse portfolio of listed equity shares and bonds which in most circumstances are realisable within a very short timescale.

 

The Directors are mindful of the principal risks and uncertainties disclosed in the Strategic Report and have reviewed forecasts detailing revenue and liabilities.  The Directors believe that the Company has adequate financial resources to continue its operational existence for the foreseeable future and at least 12 months from the date of this Annual Report. Accordingly, the Directors continue to adopt the going concern basis in preparing these financial statements.

 

Accountability and Audit

Each Director confirms that, so far as he or she is aware, there is no relevant audit information of which the Company's auditor is unaware, and he or she has taken all the steps that they ought to have taken as a Director in order to make themselves aware of any relevant audit information and to establish that the Company's auditor is aware of that information.

 

Independent Auditor

The Company's policy is to conduct a regular review of its audit arrangements. The last tender took place in 2013 and following a detailed and rigorous process involving large and medium-sized audit firms the Board's recommendation to shareholders to reappoint Ernst & Young LLP ("EY") was duly approved.  EY, has expressed its willingness to continue in office and a Resolution to re-appoint EY as the Company's auditor will be put to the forthcoming Annual General Meeting, along with a separate Resolution to authorise the Directors to fix the auditor's remuneration. Details of fees relating to non-audit services are disclosed note 5.  The Directors have reviewed the level of non-audit services provided by the independent auditor during the year, together with the independent auditor's procedures in connection with the provision of such services, and remain satisfied that the auditor's objectivity and independence is being safeguarded.

 

Internal Controls and Risk Management

The Board of Directors is ultimately responsible for the Company's system of internal control and for reviewing its effectiveness. Following the Financial Reporting Council's publication of "Internal Control: Revised Guidance for Directors on the Combined Code" (the FRC guidance), the Directors confirm that there is an ongoing process for identifying, evaluating and managing the significant risks faced by the Company. This process has been in place for the full year under review and up to the date of approval of the financial statements, and this process is regularly reviewed by the Board and accords with the FRC Guidance.

 

The design, implementation and maintenance of controls and procedures to safeguard the assets of the Company and to manage its affairs properly extends to operational and compliance controls and risk management. The Board has prepared its own risk register which identifies potential risks relating to strategy, investment management, shareholders, marketing, gearing, regulatory and financial obligations; third party service providers and the Board.  The Board considers the potential cause and possible impact of these risks as well as reviewing the controls in place to mitigate these potential risks. A risk is rated by having a likelihood and an impact rating and the residual risk is plotted on a "heat map" and is reviewed regularly.

 

The Board has reviewed the effectiveness of the system of internal control and, in particular, it has reviewed the process for identifying and evaluating the significant risks faced by the Company and the policies and procedures by which these risks are managed.

 

The Directors have delegated the investment management of the Company's assets to AFML within overall guidelines and this embraces implementation of the system of internal control, including financial, operational and compliance controls and risk management. Internal control systems are monitored and supported by AFML's internal audit function which undertakes periodic examination of business processes, including compliance with the terms of the management agreement, and ensures that recommendations to improve controls are implemented.

 

Risks are identified and documented through a risk management framework by each function within the Manager's activities. Risk is considered in the context of the FRC Guidance and includes financial, regulatory, market, operational and reputational risk. This helps the internal audit risk assessment model identify those functions for review. Any relevant weaknesses identified are reported to the Board and timetables are agreed for implementing improvements to systems. The implementation of any remedial action required is monitored and feedback provided to the Board.

 

The key components designed to provide effective internal control for the year under review and up to the date of this Report are outlined below:

 

-         the Manager prepares forecasts and management accounts which allow the Board to assess the Company's activities and review its investment performance;

-         the Board and Manager have agreed clearly defined investment criteria;

-         there are specified levels of authority and exposure limits. Reports on these issues, including performance statistics and investment valuations, are regularly submitted to the Board. The Manager's investment process and financial analysis of the companies concerned include detailed appraisal and due diligence;

-         as a matter of course the internal audit and compliance departments of AFML continually review the Manager's operations;

-         written agreements are in place which specifically define the roles and responsibilities of the Manager and other third party service providers and monitoring reports are received from these providers when required;

-         the Board has considered the need for an internal audit function but, because of the compliance and internal control systems in place at the Manager, has decided to place reliance on the Manager's systems and internal audit procedures; and

-         twice a year, at its Board meetings, the Board carries out an assessment of internal controls by considering documentation from the Manager, including its internal audit and compliance functions and taking account of events since the relevant period end.

 

In addition, the Manager ensures that clearly documented contractual arrangements exist in respect of any activities that have been delegated to external professional organisations.  The Board meets annually with representatives from BNY Mellon and reviews a control report covering the activities of the depositary and custodian. 

 

The Head of Internal Audit of the Manager reports six monthly to the Audit Committee of the Company and has direct access to the Directors at any time.

 

The internal control systems are designed to meet the Company's particular needs and the risks to which it is exposed. Accordingly, the internal control systems are designed to manage rather than eliminate the risk of failure to achieve business objectives and, by their nature, can provide reasonable but not absolute assurance against material misstatement or loss.

 

The UK Stewardship Code and Proxy Voting

The purpose of the UK Stewardship Code is to enhance the quality of engagement between institutional investors and companies to help improve long-term returns to shareholders and assist institutional investors with the efficient exercise of their governance responsibilities.

 

The Company's investments are held in nominee names. The Board has delegated responsibility for actively monitoring the activities of portfolio companies, including the exercise of voting powers on its behalf, to the Manager who has in turn delegated this responsibility to the Investment Manager.

 

The Investment Manager is responsible for reviewing, on a regular basis, the annual reports, circulars and other publications produced by the portfolio company and for attending company meetings. The Investment Manager, in the absence of explicit instruction from the Board, is empowered to use discretion in the exercise of the Company's voting rights.

 

In exercising the Company's voting rights, the Aberdeen Group follows a number of principles which set out the framework on corporate governance, proxy voting and shareholder engagement in relation to the companies in which the Aberdeen Group has invested or is considering investing. The Board has reviewed these principles together with the Aberdeen Group's Disclosure Response to the UK Stewardship Code, and is satisfied that the exercise of delegated voting powers by the Investment Manager is being properly executed. The Aberdeen Group's Corporate Governance Principles together with the Aberdeen Group's Disclosure Response to the UK Stewardship Code may be found on the Aberdeen Group's website, at http://aboutus.aberdeen-asset.com/en/aboutus/expertise/equities/stewardship.

 

The Board recognises and supports the Aberdeen Group's policy of active engagement with investee companies and the voting of all of the shares held by the Company. The Board receives regular reports on the exercise of the Company's voting rights and discusses any issues arising with the Investment Manager. It is the Board's view that having an active voting policy and a process for monitoring the Investment Manager's exercise of those votes, especially in relation to controversial issues, aids the efficient exercise of the Company's governance responsibilities.

 

Relations with Shareholders

The Company places great importance on communication with its shareholders. The Manager has an annual programme of meetings with institutional shareholders and reports back to the Board on these meetings. 

 

Participants in the Aberdeen Retail Savings Plans (the "Plans"), whose shares are held in the nominee names of the Plans' administrator, are given the opportunity to vote by means of a Letter of Direction enclosed with the Annual Report. The Letter of Direction is forwarded to the administrator of the Plans, who will complete a proxy on behalf of the participants and forward it to the Company's registrar for inclusion in the voting figures. Those participants who attend the Annual General Meeting are given the opportunity to speak when invited by the Chairman. As required under the Code, the Annual Report is posted to shareholders at least twenty business days before the Annual General Meeting.

 

The Board is very conscious that the Annual General Meeting is an event for all shareholders and encourages them to attend and participate. The Manager makes a presentation to the meeting outlining the key investment issues that affect the Company. All shareholders have the opportunity to put questions at the Company's Annual General Meeting. The number of proxy votes is relayed to shareholders at the Annual General Meeting, after each resolution has been dealt with on a show of hands.

 

Shareholders also have direct access to the Company via the free shareholder information telephone service run by the Manager, and the Company and the Manager respond to letters from shareholders. The Manager meets regularly with major shareholders and reports back to the Board on these visits.

 

The Board's policy is to communicate directly with shareholders and their representative bodies without the involvement of the management group (either the Company Secretary or the Manager) in situations where direct communication is required. Representatives from the Board meet with major shareholders regularly.

 

Responsible Investment

The Board is aware of its duty to act in the interests of the Company. The Board acknowledges that there are risks associated with investment in companies which fail to conduct business in a socially responsible manner. The Manager considers social, environmental and ethical factors which may affect the performance or value of the Company's investments. The Directors, through the Company's Manager, encourage companies in which investments are made to adhere to best practice in the area of Corporate Governance. They believe that this can best be achieved by entering into a dialogue with company management to encourage them, where necessary, to improve their policies in this area.

 

B Ordinary Share Conversion - Circular to Shareholders

Shareholders' attention is drawn to the Circular to Shareholders accompanying this Annual Report which sets out the Board's proposals for the final conversion of the B Ordinary shares in 2016 and the adoption of amended Articles of Association.

 

By order of the Board of Murray International Trust PLC

 

Aberdeen Asset Management PLC

Secretary

40 Princes Street,

Edinburgh EH2 2BY

 

11 March 2016



 

 

6  FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

 


31 December 2015

31 December 2014

%
change

Total assets less current liabilities (before deducting prior charges)

£1,285,193,000

£1,429,179,000


Equity shareholders' funds (Net Assets)

£1,091,019,000

£1,240,537,000


Market capitalisation

£1,065,058,000

£1,317,337,000

-19.2

Share price - Ordinary share (mid market)

829.5p

1026.0p

-19.2

Share price - B Ordinary share (mid market)

725.0p

1087.5p

-33.3

Net Asset Value per Ordinary and B Ordinary share

849.0p

966.6p

-12.2

(Discount)/premium to Net Asset Value on Ordinary shares

(2.30%)

6.1%






Gearing (ratio of borrowings less cash to shareholders' funds)




Net gearing{A}

17.4%

13.8%






Dividends and earnings per Ordinary share




Revenue return per share

45.7p

40.8p

+12.0

Dividends per share{B}

46.5p

45.0p

+3.3

Dividend cover (including proposed final dividend)

0.98

0.91


Revenue reserves{C}

£64,767,000

£64,690,000






Ongoing charges{D}




Excluding performance fee

0.75%

0.73%


Including performance fee

0.75%

0.73%


{A}      Calculated in accordance with AIC guidance "Gearing Disclosures post RDR"

{B}      The figure for dividends per share reflects the years to which their declaration relates and assuming approval of the 15.0p (2014 - 15.0p) final dividend.

{C}      The revenue reserve figure does not take account of the third interim and final dividends amounting to £13,398,000 and £19,050,000 respectively (2014 - £12,736,000 and £19,107,000).

{D}      Ongoing charges are calculated in accordance with guidance issued by the AIC as the total of the investment management fee and administrative expenses divided by the average cum income net asset value throughout the year.

 

 

Performance (total return)

 


1 year

3 year

5 year

10 year


% return

% return

% return

% return

Share price{A}

-15.2

-10.2

+8.2

+114.1

Net asset value per Ordinary and B Ordinary share

-7.8

-0.7

+13.1

+104.6

Benchmark

+2.6

+33.6

+42.1

+86.1

Total return represents the capital return plus dividends reinvested.

{A} Mid to mid.

 

 

 

 

7.    STATEMENT OF DIRECTORS' RESPONSIBILITIES

The Directors are responsible for preparing the Directors' Report and the financial statements in accordance with applicable law and regulations.

Governance

 

Company law requires the Directors to prepare financial statements for each financial year. Under that law the Directors have elected to prepare the financial statements in accordance with United Kingdom Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (United Kingdom Accounting Standards and applicable law). Under company law the Directors must not approve the financial statements unless they are satisfied that they give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the Company and of the profit or loss of the Company for that period. In preparing these financial statements, the Directors are required to:

 

-     select suitable accounting policies and then apply them consistently;

-     make judgments and accounting estimates that are reasonable and prudent; and,

-     state whether applicable UK Accounting Standards have been followed, subject to any material departures disclosed and explained in the financial statements.

 

The Directors are responsible for keeping adequate accounting records that are sufficient to show and explain the Company's transactions and disclose with reasonable accuracy at any time the financial position of the Company and enable them to ensure that the financial statements comply with the Companies Act 2006. They are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the Company and hence for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities.

 

Under applicable law and regulations, the Directors are also responsible for preparing a Directors' Report, Directors' Remuneration Report and Statement of Corporate Governance that comply with that law and those regulations.

 

The financial statements are published on murray-intl.co.uk which is a website maintained by the Company's Manager. The Directors are responsible for the maintenance and integrity of the corporate and financial information included on the Company's website. Legislation in the UK governing the preparation and dissemination of financial statements may differ from legislation in other jurisdictions.

 

Each of the Directors confirms that to the best of his or her knowledge:

 

-     the financial statements, prepared in accordance with the applicable accounting standards, give a true and fair view of the assets, liabilities, financial position and profit or loss of the Company;

-     the Strategic Report and Directors' Report include a fair review of the development and performance of the business and the position of the Company, together with a description of the principal risks and uncertainties that the Company faces; and

-      that in the opinion of the Board, the Annual Report and Financial Statements taken as a whole, is fair, balanced and understandable and it provides the information necessary to assess the Company's performance, business model and strategy.

 

For Murray International Trust PLC

 

Kevin Carter

Chairman

11 March 2016

 

 



8.    STATEMENT OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME

 

For the year ended 31 December 2015

 



Year ended 31 December 2015

Year ended 31 December 2014



Revenue

Capital

Total

Revenue

Capital

Total


Notes

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

Losses on investments

10

-

(145,153)

(145,153)

-

(9,252)

(9,252)

Income

2

67,020

-

67,020

62,609

-

62,609

Investment management fees

3

(2,108)

(4,919)

(7,027)

(2,165)

(5,052)

(7,217)

Currency losses


-

(304)

(304)

-

(27)

(27)

Other expenses

5

(1,909)

-

(1,909)

(1,995)

-

(1,995)



_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

Net return before finance costs and taxation


63,003

(150,376)

(87,373)

58,449

(14,331)

44,118









Finance costs

6

(1,427)

(3,328)

(4,755)

(1,498)

(3,490)

(4,988)



_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

Return on ordinary activities before tax


61,576

(153,704)

(92,128)

56,951

(17,821)

39,130









Tax on ordinary activities

7

(2,860)

2,784

(76)

(5,107)

1,336

(3,771)



_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

Return attributable to equity shareholders


58,716

(150,920)

(92,204)

51,844

(16,485)

35,359



_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______









Return per Ordinary share assuming full conversion of the B Ordinary shares (pence)

9

45.7

(117.5)

(71.8)

40.8

(13.0)

27.8



_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______









The total column of this statement represents the profit and loss account of the Company. The 'Revenue' and 'Capital' columns represent supplementary information prepared under guidance issued by the Association of Investment Companies.

All revenue and capital items in the above statement derive from continuing operations.

No operations were acquired or discontinued in the year.

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.








£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

Ordinary dividends on equity shares

8

58,639

-

58,639

55,274

-

55,274



_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______






The above dividend information does not form part of the Statement of Comprehensive Income.

 

 



9.    STATEMENT OF FINANCIAL POSITION

 

As at 31 December 2015

 



As at

As at



31 December 2015

31 December 2014


Notes

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

Non-current assets






Investments listed at fair value through profit or loss

10


1,273,121


1,408,332







Current assets






Debtors

11

10,013


8,015


Cash and short term deposits


4,648


17,766




_______


_______




14,661


25,781




_______


_______








Creditors: amounts falling due within one year






Bank loans

12/13

(24,024)


(44,933)


Other creditors

12

(2,589)


(4,934)




_______


_______




(26,613)


(49,867)




_______


_______


Net current liabilities



(11,952)


(24,086)




_______


_______

Total assets less current liabilities



1,261,169


1,384,246







Creditors: amounts falling due after more than one year






Bank loans and debentures

12/13

(170,150)


(143,709)




_______


_______





(170,150)


(143,709)




_______


_______

Net assets



1,091,019


1,240,537




_______


_______







Capital and reserves






Called-up share capital

14


32,128


32,084

Share premium account



349,338


348,045

Capital redemption reserve



8,230


8,230

Capital reserve

15


636,556


787,488

Revenue reserve



64,767


64,690




_______


_______

Equity shareholders' funds



1,091,019


1,240,537




_______


_______







Net Asset Value per Ordinary and B Ordinary share (pence)

16


849.0


966.6




_______


_______

 

 



10    STATEMENT OF CHANGES IN EQUITY

 

For the year ended 31 December 2015











Share

Capital






Share

premium

redemption

Capital

Revenue




capital

account

reserve

reserve

reserve

Total


Note

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

Balance at 31 December 2014


32,084

348,045

8,230

787,488

64,690

1,240,537

Return on ordinary activities after taxation


-

-

-

(150,920)

58,716

(92,204)

Dividends paid

8

-

-

-

-

(58,639)

(58,639)

Issue of new shares

14

44

1,293

-

(12)

-

1,325



_______

______

______

_______

______

_______

Balance at 31 December 2015


32,128

349,338

8,230

636,556

64,767

1,091,019



_______

______

______

_______

______

_______









For the year ended 31 December 2014






Share

Capital






Share

premium

redemption

Capital

Revenue




capital

account

reserve

reserve

reserve

Total



£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

Balance at 31 December 2013


31,516

324,866

8,230

803,986

68,120

1,236,718

Return on ordinary activities after taxation


-

-

-

(16,485)

51,844

35,359

Dividends paid

8

-

-

-

-

(55,274)

(55,274)

Issue of new shares

14

568

23,179

-

(13)

-

23,734



_______

______

______

_______

______

_______

Balance at 31 December 2014


32,084

348,045

8,230

787,488

64,690

1,240,537



_______

______

______

_______

______

_______









The revenue reserve represents the amount of the Company's reserves distributable by way of dividend.

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these financial statements.

 

 



11    STATEMENT OF CASH FLOWS

 

For the year ended 31 December 2015

 



Year ended

Year ended



31 December 2015

31 December 2014


Notes

£'000

£'000

 Net return before finance costs and taxation


(87,373)

44,118

(Decrease)/increase in accrued expenses


(185)

176

Overseas withholding tax


(1,668)

(3,914)

Interest income


(242)

(6)

Dividends income


(49,284)

(50,804)

Fixed interest income


(15,554)

(10,973)

Realised gains on foreign exchange transactions


(182)

(7,663)

Fixed interest income received


17,154

8,800

Dividends received


47,621

51,976

Interest received


242

6

Interest paid


(4,795)

(5,052)

Losses on investments


145,153

9,252

Amortisation of fixed income book cost


(2,679)

1,975

Decrease/(increase) in other debtors


8

(43)

Stock dividends included in investment income


(1,940)

(826)



________

________

Net cash flow from operating activities


46,276

37,022





 Investing activities




 Purchases of investments

10,12

(78,630)

(180,829)

 Sales of investments

10

71,557

185,123



________

________

 Net cash (used in)/from investing activities


(7,073)

4,294





 Financing activities




 Equity dividends paid

8

(58,639)

(55,274)

 Share issue

14

1,325

23,734

 Loan repayment


(45,007)

-

 Loan drawdown


50,000

3,455



________

________

 Net cash used in financing activities


(52,321)

(28,085)



________

________

 (Decrease)/increase in cash


(13,118)

13,231



________

________

Analysis of changes in cash during the year




Opening balance


17,766

4,535

(Decrease)/increase in cash as above


(13,118)

13,231



________

________

Closing balances


4,648

17,766



________

________

 

 



12    NOTES TO THE FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

 

For the year ended 31 December 2015

 


 

1.

Accounting policies

 


(a)

Basis of preparation

 



The financial statements have been prepared in accordance with Financial Reporting Standard 102 and with the Statement of Recommended Practice 'Financial Statements of Investment Trust Companies and Venture Capital Trusts'. The financial statements are prepared in sterling which is the functional currency of the Company and rounded to the nearest £'000. They have also been prepared on a going concern basis and on the assumption that approval as an investment trust will continue to be granted.

 






These financial statements are the first since FRS 102 (The Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland) came into effect for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2015. An assessment of the impact of adopting FRS 102 has been carried out and found that no restatement of balances as at the transition date, 1 January 2014, or comparative figures in the Statement of Financial Position or the Statement of Comprehensive Income is considered necessary. In addition, the adoption of FRS 102 resulted in no significant changes to the presentation of the financial statements, with the exception of Fair Value Hierarchy disclosures within note 18.

 





(b)

Income

 



Dividends receivable on equity shares are treated as revenue for the year on an ex-dividend basis. Where no ex-dividend date is available dividends are recognised on their due date. Provision is made for any dividends not expected to be received. Special dividends are credited to capital or revenue, according to their circumstances.

 






In some jurisdictions, investment income and capital gains are subject to withholding tax deducted at the source of the income. The Company presents the withholding tax separately from the gross investment income in the Statement of Comprehensive Income under taxation.

 






The fixed returns on debt securities are recognised on a time apportionment basis so as to reflect the effective yield on the debt securities.

 






Interest receivable from cash and short-term deposits is accrued to the end of the year.

 





(c)

Expenses

 



All expenses are accounted for on an accruals basis and are charged to the Statement of Comprehensive Income. Expenses are charged against revenue except as follows:

 



-

transaction costs on the acquisition or disposal of investments are charged against capital in the Statement of Comprehensive Income;



-

expenses are treated as a capital item in the Statement of Comprehensive Income and ultimately recognised in the capital reserve where a connection with the maintenance or enhancement of the value of the investments can be demonstrated. In this respect the investment management fee has been allocated 30% to revenue and 70% to the capital reserve to reflect the Company's investment policy and prospective income and capital growth.






(d)

Taxation

 



Deferred taxation is recognised in respect of all timing differences that have originated but not reversed at the Statement of Financial Position date, where transactions or events that result in an obligation to pay more tax in the future or right to pay less tax in the future have occurred at the Statement of Financial Position date. This is subject to deferred tax assets only being recognised if it is considered more likely than not that there will be suitable profits from which the future reversal of the underlying timing differences can be deducted. Timing differences are differences arising between the Company's taxable profits and its results as stated in the financial statements which are capable of reversal in one or more subsequent periods. Deferred tax is measured on a non-discounted basis at the tax rates that are expected to apply in the periods in which timing differences are expected to reverse, based on tax rates and laws enacted or substantively enacted at the Statement of Financial Position date.

 






Due to the Company's status as an investment trust company and the intention to continue meeting the conditions required to obtain approval in the foreseeable future, the Company has not provided deferred tax on any capital gains and losses arising on the revaluation or disposal of investments. 

 






The tax effect of different items of income/gain and expenditure/loss is allocated between capital and revenue within the Statement of Comprehensive Income on the same basis as the particular item to which it relates using the Company's effective rate of tax for the year, based on the marginal basis.

 





(e)

Investments

 



All investments have been designated upon initial recognition as fair value through profit or loss. This is done because all investments are considered to form part of a group of financial assets which is evaluated on a fair value basis, in accordance with the Company's documented investment strategy, and information about the grouping is provided internally on that basis.

 






Investments are recognised and de-recognised at trade date where a purchase or sale is under a contract whose terms require delivery within the timeframe established by the market concerned, and are measured initially at fair value. Subsequent to initial recognition, investments are valued at fair value through profit or loss. For listed investments, this is deemed to be bid market prices or closing prices for SETS (London Stock Exchange's electronic trading service) stocks sourced from the London Stock Exchange.

 






Gains and losses arising from changes in fair value are treated in net profit or loss for the period as a capital item in the Statement of Comprehensive Income and are ultimately recognised in the capital reserve.

 





(f)

Borrowings

 



Monies borrowed to finance the investment objectives of the Company are stated at the amount of the net proceeds immediately after issue plus cumulative finance costs less cumulative payments made in respect of the debt. The finance costs of such borrowings are accounted for on an accruals basis using the effective interest rate method and are charged 30% to revenue and 70% to capital in the Statement of Comprehensive Income to reflect the Company's investment policy and prospective income and capital growth. 

 





(g)

Nature and purpose of reserves

 



Capital redemption reserve

 



The capital redemption reserve arose when Ordinary shares were redeemed, at which point an amount equal to the par value of the Ordinary share capital was transferred from the Statement of Comprehensive Income to the capital redemption reserve.

 






Capital reserve

 



This reserve reflects any gains or losses on investments realised in the period along with any movement in the fair value of investments held that have been recognised in the Statement of Comprehensive Income. These include gains and losses from foreign currency exchange differences. Additionally, expenses, including finance costs, are charged to this reserve in accordance with (c) above.

 






Revenue reserve

 



This reserve reflects all income and costs which are recognised in the revenue column of the Statement of Comprehensive Income. The revenue reserve represents the amount of the Company's reserves distributable by way of dividend.

 





(h)

Exchange rates

 



Transactions involving foreign currencies are converted at the rate ruling at the date of the transaction.

 






Translation of all other foreign currency balances including foreign assets and foreign liabilities is at the rates of exchange at the year end. Differences arising from translation are treated as a gain or loss to capital or revenue within the Statement of Comprehensive Income depending upon the nature of the gain or loss.

 





(i)

Derivative financial instruments

 



Financial derivatives are measured at fair value based on an appropriate model. Changes in the fair value of derivative financial instruments are recognised in the Statement of Comprehensive Income as they arise. If capital in nature, the associated change in value is presented as a capital item in the Statement of Comprehensive Income.

 

 



2015

2014

2.

Income

£'000

£'000


Income from investments:




UK dividends

6,937

7,727


UK unfranked investment income

-

74


Overseas dividends

42,347

43,003


Overseas interest

15,554

10,973


UK stock dividends

1,456

826


Overseas stock dividends

484

-



________

________



66,778

62,603



________

________


Interest:




Deposit interest

242

6



________

________


Total income

67,020

62,609



________

________







2015

2014


Income from investments comprises:

£'000

£'000


Listed UK

8,393

8,627


Listed overseas

58,385

53,976



________

________



66,778

62,603



________

________






Certain comparative figures have been dis-aggregated to provide more detailed information in line with the current presentation adopted. There was no impact on the comparative income as a result of the new presentation.

 



2015

2014



Revenue

Capital

Total

Revenue

Capital

Total

3.

Investment management fees

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000


Investment management fees

2,108

4,919

7,027

2,165

5,052

7,217



________

________

_______

_______

_______

_______










Details of the fee basis for the year are contained in the Directors' Report and in note 21. The balance due to Aberdeen Fund Managers Limited at the year end was £1,703,000 (2014 - £1,793,000).

 

4.

Performance fees


Details of the fee basis are contained in the Directors' Report on and in note 21.

 



2015

2014

5.

Other expenses

£'000

£'000


Shareholders' services{A}

653

688


Directors' remuneration

164

164


Irrecoverable VAT

2

55


Secretarial fees{B}

100

100


Auditor's fees for:




- Statutory audit

25

24


- Other assurance services

7

7


- Tax compliance

14

30


Administrative expenses{C}

944

927



________

________



1,909

1,995



________

________




{A}      Includes registration, savings scheme and other wrapper administration and promotion expenses, of which £485,000 (2014 - £504,000) was payable to Aberdeen Fund Managers Limited ("AFML") to cover promotional activities during the year. At the year end £104,000 (2014 - £122,000) was due to AFML.


{B}      Details of the fee basis are contained in the Directors' Report and in note 21. The balance due to AFML at the year end was £25,000 (2014 - £25,000).


{C}      Includes bank charges and custody fees of £374,000 (2014 - £449,000), depositary fees of £207,000 (2014 - £102,000), stock exchange fees of £95,000 (2014 - £121,000) and printing, postage and stationery costs of £88,000 (2014 - £96,000).

 



2015

2014



Revenue

Capital

Total

Revenue

Capital

Total

6.

Finance costs

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000


Bank loans and overdrafts

1,425

3,324

4,749

1,496

3,486

4,982


Debenture stock

2

4

6

2

4

6



_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______



1,427

3,328

4,755

1,498

3,490

4,988



_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

 



2015

2014



Revenue

Capital

Total

Revenue

Capital

Total

7.

Taxation

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000


(a)

Tax charge









The tax charge comprises:









Current UK tax

608

-

608

962

-

962



Double taxation relief

(608)

-

(608)

(962)

-

(962)



Tax relief to capital

1,893

(1,893)

-

1,336

(1,336)

-



Overseas tax

3,513

-

3,513

5,045

-

5,045



Overseas tax reclaimable

(538)

-

(538)

(1,274)

-

(1,274)



Recovery of prior years' French withholding tax

(2,008)

-

(2,008)

-

-

-




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______



Current tax charge for the year

2,860

(1,893)

967

5,107

(1,336)

3,771



Deferred tax

-

(891)

(891)

-

-

-




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______



Total tax

2,860

(2,784)

76

5,107

(1,336)

3,771




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______











(b)

Factors affecting the tax charge for the year



The UK corporation tax rate was 21% until 31 March 2015 and 20% from 1 April 2015, giving an effective rate of 20.25% (2014 - 21.5%). The tax assessed for the year is lower than the effective corporation tax rate. The differences are explained below:







2015

2014




Revenue

Capital

Total

Revenue

Capital

Total




£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000



Return on ordinary activities before taxation

61,576

(153,704)

(92,128)

56,951

(17,821)

39,130




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______



Tax thereon at an effective rate of 20.25% (2014 - 21.5%)

12,469

(31,125)

(18,656)

12,244

(3,832)

8,412



Effects of:









Non taxable UK dividends

(1,405)

-

(1,405)

(1,661)

-

(1,661)



Losses on investments not taxable

-

29,393

29,393

-

1,989

1,989



Currency losses not taxable

-

62

62

-

5

5



Non taxable overseas dividends

(7,564)

-

(7,564)

(8,107)

-

(8,107)



Non taxable stock dividends

(393)

-

(393)

(178)

-

(178)



Irrecoverable overseas tax suffered

3,513

-

3,513

5,045

-

5,045



Overseas tax reclaimable

(538)

-

(538)

(1,274)

-

(1,274)



Double taxation relief

(608)

-

(608)

(962)

-

(962)



Tax relief obtained by expenses capitalised

1,893

(1,893)

-

1,336

(1,336)

-



Expenses charged to capital available to be utilised

(1,670)

1,670

-

(1,838)

1,838

-



Recovery of prior years' French withholding tax

(2,008)

-

(2,008)

-

-

-



Excess management expenses

(829)

-

(829)

502

-

502



Deferred tax asset recognised

-

(891)

(891)

-

-

-




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______




2,860

(2,784)

76

5,107

(1,336)

3,771




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______












The Company has not provided for deferred tax on chargeable gains or losses arising on the revaluation or disposal of investments as it is exempt from corporation tax on these items because of its status as an investment trust company.






The Company has recognised a deferred tax asset of £891,000 (2014 - unrecognised - £1,683,000) arising as a result of the likelihood that excess management expenses of £4,455,000 (2014 - £8,414,000) will be utilised in the following period.

 



2015

2014

8.

Ordinary dividends on equity shares

£'000

£'000


Amounts recognised as distributions paid during the year:




Third interim for 2014 of 10.0p (2013 - 9.5p)

12,736

11,887


Final dividend for 2014 of 15.0p (2013 - 14.5p)

19,107

18,163


First interim for 2015 of 10.5p (2014 - 10.0p)

13,398

12,620


Second interim for 2015 of 10.5p (2014 - 10.0p)

13,398

12,669


Refund of unclaimed dividends

-

(65)



_______

_______



58,639

55,274



_______

_______






In accordance with UK GAAP the third interim dividend and proposed final dividend for 2015 have not been included as liabilities in these financial statements. The proposed final dividend for 2015 is subject to approval by shareholders at the Annual General Meeting.




We set out below the total dividends paid and proposed in respect of the financial year, which is the basis on which the requirements of Sections 1158-1159 of the Corporation Tax Act 2010 are considered. The revenue available for distribution by way of dividend for the year is £58,716,000 (2014 - £51,844,000).





2015

2014



£'000

£'000


Three interim dividends for 2015 of 10.5p (2014 - 10.0p)

40,169

38,025


Proposed final dividend for 2015 of 15.0p (2014 - 15.0p)

19,050

19,107



_______

_______



59,219

57,132



_______

_______






Subsequent to the year end the Company has purchased for treasury 601,163 Ordinary shares; therefore the amount reflected above for the cost of the proposed final dividend for 2015 is based on 127,000,789 Ordinary shares in issue, being the number of Ordinary shares in issue at the date of this Report.

 



2015

2014

9.

Return per Ordinary share

£'000

p

£'000

p


Returns are based on the following figures:






Revenue return

58,716

45.7

51,844

40.8


Capital return

(150,920)

(117.5)

(16,485)

(13.0)



_______

_______

_______

_______


Total return

(92,204)

(71.8)

35,359

27.8



_______

_______

_______

_______


Weighted average number of Ordinary shares


127,496,502


126,132,659


Weighted average number of B Ordinary shares


942,862


955,545




__________


__________


Weighted average number of Ordinary shares assuming conversion of B Ordinary shares


128,439,364


127,088,204




__________


__________

 



2015

2014

10.

Investments listed at fair value through profit or loss

£'000

£'000


Opening valuation

1,408,332

1,421,277


Opening investment holdings gains

(340,581)

(368,310)



_______

_______


Opening book cost

1,067,751

1,052,967


Movements during the year:




Purchases

78,820

183,405


Sales - proceeds

(71,557)

(185,123)


Sales - realised gains

34,581

18,477


Accretion/(amortisation) of fixed income book cost

2,679

(1,975)



_______

_______


Closing book cost

1,112,274

1,067,751


Closing investment holdings gains

160,847

340,581



_______

_______


Closing valuation

1,273,121

1,408,332



_______

_______







2015

2014


The portfolio valuation

£'000

£'000


Listed on stock exchanges at bid valuation:




United Kingdom:




- equities

137,793

159,644


- fixed income

6,875

6,566


Overseas:




- equities

969,609

1,066,052


- fixed income

158,844

176,070



_______

_______


Total

1,273,121

1,408,332



_______

_______







2015

2014


Losses on investments

£'000

£'000


Realised gains based on book cost

34,581

18,477


Net movement in investment holdings gains

(179,734)

(27,729)



_______

_______



(145,153)

(9,252)



_______

_______






All investments are categorised as held at fair value through profit and loss and were designated as such upon initial recognition.




Transaction costs


During the year expenses were incurred in acquiring or disposing of investments classified as fair value through profit or loss. These have been expensed through capital and are included within losses on investments in the Statement of Comprehensive Income. The total costs were as follows:







2015

2014



£'000

£'000


Purchases

86

106


Sales

58

98



_______

_______



144

204



_______

_______

 



2015

2014

11.

Debtors: amounts falling due within one year

£'000

£'000


Current taxation

1,966

1,265


Deferred tax

891

-


Forward contracts

351

-


Other debtors

88

96


Accrued income

6,717

6,654



_______

_______



10,013

8,015



_______

_______


None of the above amounts are overdue.



 



2015

2014

12.

Creditors

£'000

£'000


Amounts falling due within one year:




Bank loans (note 13)

24,024

44,933


Forward contracts

-

370


Amounts due to brokers

-

1,750


Accruals

2,589

2,814



_______

_______



26,613

49,867



_______

_______







2015

2014


Amounts falling due after more than one year:

£'000

£'000


Bank loans and Debentures (note 13)

170,150

143,709



_______

_______






All financial liabilities are included at amortised cost or at fair value for forward contracts.

 



2015

2014

13.

Bank loans and Debentures

£'000

£'000


Secured by floating charge and repayable other than by instalments or at the Company's option:




-

4% Debenture Stock - Perpetual

150

150


Unsecured bank loans repayable within one year:




-

Yen 1,600,000,000 at 2.82% - 15 May 2016

9,024

-


-

Yen 8,400,000,000 at 3.17% - 13 May 2015

-

44,933


-

£15,000,000 at 2.00% - 16 May 2016

15,000

-


Unsecured bank loans repayable in more than one year but no more than five years:




-

£60,000,000 at 2.21% - 31 May 2017

60,000

60,000


-

£60,000,000 at 2.575% - 31 May 2018

60,000

60,000


-

£50,000,000 at 2.4975% - 13 May 2020

50,000

-


-

Yen 1,600,000,000 at 2.82% - 15 May 2016

-

8,559


-

£15,000,000 at 2.00% - 16 May 2016

-

15,000




_______

_______




194,174

188,642




_______

_______







The terms of these loans permit early repayment at the borrower's option which may give rise to additional amounts being either payable or repayable in respect of fluctuations in interest rates since drawdown. Since the Directors, currently, have no intention of repaying the loans early, then no such charges are included in the cash flows used to determine their effective interest rate.




The Company currently has a fixed rate term loan facility with ING Bank N.V., which is fully drawn down and has a maturity date of 15 May 2016.




The Company currently has four fixed rate term loan facilities with The Royal Bank of Scotland plc ("RBS"), all of which are fully drawn down and have maturity dates of 16 May 2016, 31 May 2017, 31 May 2018 and 13 May 2020 respectively.




Financial covenants contained within the relevant loan agreements provide, inter alia, that borrowings shall at no time exceed 40% of net assets and that the net assets must exceed £600 million. At 31 December 2015 net assets were £1,091,019,000 and borrowings were 17.8% thereof. The Company has complied with all financial covenants throughout the year.

 



2015

2014

14.

Share capital

Number

£'000

Number

£'000


Allotted, called up and fully paid Ordinary shares of 25p each:






Balance brought forward

127,361,901

31,840

125,126,207

31,282


Ordinary shares issued in the year

130,000

32

2,232,500

557


B Ordinary shares converted to Ordinary shares in the year

110,051

28

3,194

1



_______

_______

_______

_______


Balance carried forward

127,601,952

31,900

127,361,901

31,840



_______

_______

_______

_______








Allotted, called up and fully paid B Ordinary shares of 25p each:






Balance brought forward

975,063

244

935,633

234


Allotment of B Ordinary shares by capitalisation

45,352

11

42,624

11


B Ordinary shares converted to Ordinary shares in the year

(110,051)

(28)

(3,194)

(1)



_______

_______

_______

_______


Balance carried forward

910,364

228

975,063

244



_______

_______

_______

_______











In accordance with Article 131 of the Company's Articles of Association, 9,808 B Ordinary shares, 15,692 B Ordinary shares, 9,443 B Ordinary shares, and 10,409 B Ordinary shares were allotted by way of capitalisation of reserves on 18 February, 15 May, 17 August and 17 November 2015 respectively.




On 1 July 2015, 110,051 B Ordinary shares were converted into a like number of Ordinary shares of 25p in accordance with Article 47 of the Company's Articles of Association. When the nominal value of the allotted and fully paid B Ordinary shares is less than £100,000 the Directors may, under the terms of Article 47(B), require the conversion of such shares into Ordinary shares. The net asset value at the conversion date of 1 July 2015 was 900.06p per share.




On a winding up of the Company, any surplus assets available after payment of all debts and satisfaction of all liabilities of the Company shall be applied in repaying the Ordinary and B Ordinary shareholders the amounts paid up on such shares. Any surplus shall be divided among the holders of Ordinary and B Ordinary shares pari passu according to the amount paid up on such shares respectively.




Voting rights


In accordance with the Articles of Association of the Company, on a show of hands, every member (or duly appointed proxy) present at a general meeting of the Company has one vote; and, on a poll, every member present in person or by proxy shall have 89 votes for every 25p nominal amount of Ordinary or B Ordinary shares held.

 



2015

2014

15.

Capital reserve

£'000

£'000


At 31 December 2014

787,488

803,986


Movement in fair value gains

(145,153)

(9,252)


Capital expenses (net of tax)

(5,463)

(7,206)


Cost of issue of shares

(12)

(13)


Currency losses

(304)

(27)



_______

_______


At 31 December 2015

636,556

787,488



_______

_______






Included in the total above are investment holdings gains at the year end of £160,847,000 (2014 - £340,581,000).

 

16.

Net asset value per share


The net asset value per share and the net asset value attributable to the Ordinary shares (including conversion of the B Ordinary shares), at the year end calculated in accordance with the Articles of Association were as follows:








Net asset value

Net asset value



per share

attributable



2015

2014

2015

2014



p

p

£'000

£'000


Ordinary and B Ordinary shares (note 14)

849.0

966.6

1,091,019

1,240,537



_______

_______

_______

_______

 

17.

Financial instruments and risk management


The Company's investment activities expose it to various types of financial risk associated with the financial instruments and markets in which it invests. The Company's financial instruments other than derivatives, comprise listed equities, cash balances, loans and debentures and debtors and creditors that arise directly from its operations; for example, in respect of sales and purchases awaiting settlement, and debtors for accrued income. The Company may enter into derivative transactions for the purpose of managing market risks arising from the Company's activities in the form of swap contracts, forward foreign currency contracts, futures and options. The Company utilised forward foreign currency contracts during the year.




The Board has delegated the risk management function to Aberdeen Fund Managers Limited ("AFML") under the terms of its management agreement with AFML (further details of which are included in the Directors' Report). The Board regularly reviews and agrees policies for managing each of the key financial risks identified with the Manager. The types of risk and the Manager's approach to the management of each type of risk, are summarised below. Such approach has been applied throughout the year and has not changed since the previous accounting period. The numerical disclosures exclude short-term debtors and creditors.




Risk management framework


The directors of AFML collectively assume responsibility for AFML's obligations under the AIFMD including reviewing investment performance and monitoring the Company's risk profile during the year.




AFML is a fully integrated member of the Aberdeen Group, which provides a variety of services and support to AFML in the conduct of its business activities, including in the oversight of the risk management framework for the Company. The AIFM has delegated the day to day administration of the investment policy to Aberdeen Asset Managers Limited, which is responsible for ensuring that the Company is managed within the terms of its investment guidelines and the limits set out in its pre-investment disclosures to investors (details of which can be found on the Company's website). The AIFM has retained responsibility for monitoring and oversight of investment performance, product risk and regulatory and operational risk for the Company.




The Manager conducts its risk oversight function through the operation of the Group's risk management processes and systems which are embedded within the Group's operations. The Group's Risk Division supports management in the identification and mitigation of risks and provides independent monitoring of the business. The Division includes Compliance, Business Risk, Market Risk, Risk Management and Legal. The team is headed up by the Group's Head of Risk, who reports to the Chief Executive Officer of the Group. The Risk Division achieves its objective through embedding the Risk Management Framework throughout the organisation using the Group's operational risk management system ("SWORD").




The Group's Internal Audit Department is independent of the Risk Division and reports directly to the Group CEO and to the Audit Committee of the Group's Board of Directors. The Internal Audit Department is responsible for providing an independent assessment of the Group's control environment.




The Group's corporate governance structure is supported by several committees to assist the board of directors of Aberdeen, its subsidiaries and the Company to fulfil their roles and responsibilities. The Group's Risk Division is represented on all committees, with the exception of those committees that deal with investment recommendations. The specific goals and guidelines on the functioning of those committees are described on the committees' terms of reference.




Risk management


The main risks the Company faces from its financial instruments are (i) market risk (comprising interest rate risk, currency risk and price risk), (ii) liquidity risk and (iii) credit risk.




(i)

Market risk



The fair value and future cash flows of a financial instrument held by the Company may fluctuate because of changes in market prices. This market risk comprises three elements - interest rate risk, currency risk and price risk. 






Interest rate risk



Interest rate risk is the risk that interest rate movements will affect:



the fair value of the investments in fixed interest rate securities;



the level of income receivable on cash deposits;






Management of the risk



The possible effects on fair value and cash flows that could arise as a result of changes in interest rates are taken into account when making investment and borrowing decisions.






The Board reviews on a regular basis the values of the fixed interest rate securities.






The Board imposes borrowing limits to ensure gearing levels are appropriate to market conditions and reviews these on a regular basis. Borrowings comprise fixed rate facilities, which are used to finance opportunities at low rates. Current bank covenant guidelines state that the total borrowings will not exceed 40% of the adjusted net tangible assets of the Company.






Interest risk profile



The interest rate risk profile of the portfolio of financial assets and liabilities at the Statement of Financial Position date was as follows:







Weighted








average








period for

Weighted



Non-




which

average

Fixed

Floating

interest




rate is fixed

interest rate

rate

rate

bearing



At 31 December 2015

Years

%

£'000

£'000

£'000



Assets








Sterling

-

-

6,875

3,627

137,793



US Dollar

10.00

10.56

86,087

16

336,364



Other

9.47

8.13

72,757

1,005

633,245




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______



Total assets



165,719

4,648

1,107,402




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______











Liabilities








Bank loans

2.36

2.41

(194,024)

-

-



Debenture Stock

-

-

(150)

-

-




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______



Total liabilities



(194,174)

-

-




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______












Weighted








average








period for

Weighted



Non-




which

average

Fixed

Floating

interest




rate is fixed

interest rate

rate

rate

bearing



At 31 December 2014

Years

%

£'000

£'000

£'000



Assets








Sterling

-

-

6,566

8,597

159,644



US Dollar

13.63

10.85

90,211

8,385

356,897



Other

10.25

8.30

85,859

784

709,155




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______



Total assets



182,636

17,766

1,225,696




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______



Liabilities








Bank loans

2.12

2.57

(188,492)

-

-



Debenture Stock

-

-

(150)

-

-




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______



Total liabilities



(188,642)

-

-




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______






The weighted average interest rate is based on the current yield of each asset, weighted by its market value. The weighted average interest rate on bank loans is based on the interest rate payable, weighted by the total value of the loans. The maturity dates of the Company's loans are shown in note 13 to the financial statements.



The floating rate assets consist of cash deposits on call earning interest at prevailing market rates.



The non-interest bearing assets represent the equity element of the portfolio.



Short-term debtors and creditors have been excluded from the above tables.



Forward currency contracts are measured at fair value. Other financial liabilities are measured at amortised cost.



Interest rate sensitivity



The sensitivity analyses below have been determined based on the exposure to interest rates for non-derivative instruments at the Statement of Financial Position date and the stipulated change taking place at the beginning of the financial year and held constant throughout the reporting period in the case of instruments that have floating rates. There is no interest rate risk exposure from derivative instruments.






If interest rates had been 100 basis points higher or lower (based on current parameter used by the Manager's Investment Risk Department on risk assessment) and all other variables were held constant, the Company's:



revenue return for the year ended 31 December 2015 would increase/decrease by £46,000 (2014 - increase/decrease by £177,000). This is mainly attributable to the Company's exposure to interest rates on its floating rate cash balances. These figures have been calculated based on cash positions at each year end.



capital reserves would increase/decrease by £761,000 (2014 - increase/decrease by £1,632,000). This is also mainly attributable to the Company's exposure to interest rates on cash balances and its fixed interest portfolio. These figures have been calculated based on cash and fixed interest portfolio positions at each year end.






In the opinion of the Directors, the above sensitivity analyses are not representative of the year as a whole, since the level of exposure changes frequently as part of the interest rate risk management process used to meet the Company's objectives. The risk parameters used will also fluctuate depending on the current market perception.






Foreign currency risk



A significant proportion of the Company's investment portfolio is invested in overseas securities and the Statement of Financial Position can be significantly affected by movements in foreign exchange rates.






Management of the risk



It is not the Company's policy to hedge this risk on a continuing basis but the Company may, from time to time, match specific overseas investment with foreign currency borrowings. A proportion of the Company's borrowings, as detailed in note 13, is in foreign currency as at 31 December 2015. The Manager seeks, when deemed appropriate, to manage exposure to currency movements on borrowings by using forward foreign currency contracts as a hedge against potential foreign currency movements. At 31 December 2015 the Company had a forward foreign currency contract, details of which are disclosed below. During the year a loss of £746,000 (2014 - loss of £5,983,000) was realised.






The revenue account is subject to currency fluctuation arising on overseas income. The Company does not hedge this currency risk.






Currency risk exposure







Currency risk exposure (excluding fixed interest securities, debentures and foreign exchange contracts due to the reason their being entered into is to mitigate foreign currency risk) by currency of denomination:







31 December 2015

31 December 2014




UK and



UK and






overseas

Net

Total

overseas

Net

Total




equity

monetary

currency

equity

monetary

currency




investments

assets

exposure

investments

assets

exposure




£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000



US Dollar

336,364

16

336,380

356,897

6,635

363,532



Sterling

137,793

(181,373)

(43,580)

159,644

(126,403)

33,241



Swiss Franc

101,789

-

101,789

108,863

-

108,863



Taiwan Dollar

94,427

-

94,427

93,938

191

94,129



Euro

82,235

-

82,235

102,271

-

102,271



Swedish Krone

49,496

-

49,496

45,099

-

45,099



Japanese Yen

47,987

(9,024)

38,963

31,134

(53,492)

(22,358)



Indonesian Rupiah

47,220

-

47,220

46,760

-

46,760



Singapore Dollar

45,659

-

45,659

45,948

-

45,948



Malaysian Ringgit

43,583

-

43,583

48,184

-

48,184



Canadian Dollar

43,038

-

43,038

62,956

-

62,956



Mexican Peso

26,852

-

26,852

23,685

-

23,685



Australian Dollar

12,922

-

12,922

13,813

-

13,813



South African Rand

12,801

-

12,801

26,949

-

26,949



Hong Kong Dollar

12,448

-

12,448

13,695

-

13,695



Brazilian Real

8,489

1,004

9,493

37,127

593

37,720



Thailand Baht

4,299

-

4,299

8,733

-

8,733




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______



Total

1,107,402

(189,377)

918,025

1,225,696

(172,476)

1,053,220




_______

_______

_______

_______

_______

_______






The asset allocation between specific markets can vary from time to time based on the Manager's opinion of the attractiveness of the individual markets.






 Foreign currency sensitivity



The following table details the Company's sensitivity to a 10% decrease (in the context of a 10% increase the figures below should all be read as negative) in sterling against the major foreign currencies in which the Company has exposure (based on exposure >5% of total exposure and excludes foreign exchange contracts due to the reason their being entered into is to mitigate foreign currency risk). The sensitivity analysis includes foreign currency denominated monetary items and adjusts their translation at the year end for a 10% change in foreign currency rates.











2015

2015

2014

2014




Revenue

Capital{A}

Revenue

Capital{A}




£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000



US Dollar

1,864

33,636

1,878

35,690



Swiss Franc

446

10,179

428

10,886



Euro

696

8,224

754

10,227



Taiwan Dollar

403

9,443

333

9,394



Canadian Dollar

n/a

n/a

134

6,296




_______

_______

_______

_______



Total

3,409

61,482

3,527

72,493




_______

_______

_______

_______










{A} Represents equity exposures to the relevant currencies.






Foreign exchange contracts



The following Japanese Yen forward contract was outstanding at the Statement of Financial Position date:














Unrealised gain at





Amount


31 December




Settlement

JPY

Contracted

2015



Date of contract

date

'000

rate

£'000



27 November 2015

7 March 2016

1,600,000

184.22

351





_______

_______

_______







Unrealised loss at





Amount


31 December




Settlement

JPY

Contracted

2014



Date of contract

date

'000

rate

£'000



1 December 2014

6 March 2015

10,000,000

185.47

370





_______

_______

_______










The fair value of forward foreign currency contracts is based on forward exchange rates at the Statement of Financial Position date.






Price risk



Other price risks (ie changes in market prices other than those arising from interest rate or currency risk) may affect the value of the quoted investments. The Company's stated objective is to achieve a total return greater than its benchmark by investing predominantly in equities worldwide.






Management of the risk



It is the Board's policy to hold an appropriate spread of investments in the portfolio in order to reduce the risk arising from factors specific to a particular country or sector. The allocation of assets to international markets and the stock selection process, as detailed in the Strategic Report, both act to reduce market risk. The Manager actively monitors market prices throughout the year and reports to the Board, which meets regularly in order to review investment strategy. The investments held by the Company are listed on various stock exchanges worldwide.






Price risk sensitivity



If market prices at the Statement of Financial Position date had been 10% higher or lower while all other variables remained constant, the return attributable to Ordinary shareholders for the year ended 31 December 2015 would have increased/decreased by £127,312,000 (2014 - increase/decrease of £140,833,000) and capital reserves would have increased/decreased by the same amount.





(ii)

Liquidity risk



This is the risk that the Company will encounter difficulty in meeting obligations associated with financial liabilities as they fall due in line with the maturity profile analysed below. 












More





Within

Within

Within

Within

Within

than





1 year

1-2 years

2-3 years

3-4 years

4-5 years

5 years

Total



At 31 December 2015

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000



Bank loans

24,024

60,000

60,000

-

50,000

-

194,024



Debenture Stock{A}

-

-

-

-

-

150

150



Interest cash flows on bank loans and Debenture Stock

4,140

3,458

2,025

1,255

629

205

11,712



Cash flows on other creditors

2,589

-

-

-

-

-

2,589




______

______

______

______

______

______

______




30,753

63,458

62,025

1,255

50,629

355

208,475




______

______

______

______

______

______

______













{A} The Debenture Stock is perpetual and has therefore been disclosed as maturing after more than 5 years.











More





Within

Within

Within

Within

Within

than





1 year

1-2 years

2-3 years

3-4 years

4-5 years

5 years

Total



At 31 December 2014

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000



Bank loans

44,933

23,559

60,000

60,000

-

-

188,492



Debenture Stock{A}

-

-

-

-

-

150

150



Interest cash flows on bank loans and Debenture Stock

3,438

3,156

2,212

776

6

211

9,799



Cash flow on forward currency contracts

370

-

-

-

-

-

370



Cash flows on other creditors

4,564

-

-

-

-

-

4,564




______

______

______

______

______

______

______




53,305

26,715

62,212

60,776

6

361

203,375




______

______

______

______

______

______

______













{A} The Debenture Stock is perpetual and has therefore been disclosed as maturing after more than 5 years.

 






Management of the risk



Liquidity risk is not considered to be significant as the Company's assets comprise mainly readily realisable securities, which can be sold to meet funding commitments if necessary. Short-term flexibility is achieved through the use of loan and overdraft facilities (note 13).





(iii)

Credit risk



This is failure of the counterparty to a transaction to discharge its obligations under that transaction that could result in the Company suffering a loss.






Management of the risk



where the Manager makes an investment in a bond, corporate or otherwise, the credit ratings of the issuer are taken into account so as to manage the risk to the Company of default;



investments in quoted bonds are made across a variety of industry sectors and geographic markets so as to avoid concentrations of credit risk;



transactions involving derivatives are entered into only with investment banks, the credit rating of which is taken into account so as to minimise the risk to the Company of default;



investment transactions are carried out with a number of brokers, whose credit-standing is reviewed periodically by the Manager, and limits are set on the amount that may be due from any one broker;



the risk of counterparty exposure due to failed trades causing a loss to the Company is mitigated by the daily review of failed trade reports. In addition, both stock and cash reconciliations to the custodian's records are performed daily to ensure discrepancies are investigated in a timely manner. The Manager's Compliance department carries out periodic reviews of the custodian's operations and reports its finding to the Manager's Risk Management Committee;



cash is held only with reputable banks with acceptable credit quality. It is the Manager's policy to trade only with A- and above (Long Term rated) and A-1/P-1 (Short Term rated) counterparties.






Credit risk exposure



In summary, compared to the amounts in the Statement of Financial Position, the maximum exposure to credit risk at 31 December 2015 was as follows:




 




2015

2014

 




Balance

Maximum

Balance

Maximum

 




Sheet

exposure

Sheet

exposure

 




£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

 



Non-current assets





 



Securities at fair value through profit or loss

1,273,121

1,273,121

1,408,332

1,408,332

 








 



Current assets





 



Current taxation

1,966

1,966

1,265

1,265

 



Deferred tax

891

891

-

-

 



Forwards

351

351

-

-

 



Other debtors

88

88

96

96

 



Accrued income

6,717

6,717

6,654

6,654

 



Cash and short term deposits

4,648

4,648

17,766

17,766

 




________

________

________

________

 




1,287,782

1,287,782

1,434,113

1,434,113

 




________

________

________

________

 




 



None of the Company's financial assets is secured by collateral or other credit enhancements.

 




 



Fair values of financial assets and financial liabilities

 



The fair value of borrowings has been calculated at £195,754,000 as at 31 December 2015 (2014 - £190,821,000) compared to an accounts value in the financial statements of £194,174,000 (2014 - £188,642,000) (note 13). The fair value of each loan is determined by aggregating the expected future cash flows for that loan discounted at a rate comprising the borrower's margin plus an average of market rates applicable to loans of a similar period of time and currency. The carrying value of all other assets and liabilities is an approximation of fair value.

 

 

18.

Fair value hierarchy


FRS 102 requires an entity to classify fair value measurements using a fair value hierarchy that reflects the significance of the inputs used in making the measurements. The fair value hierarchy shall have the following classifications:




Class A: quoted prices for identical instruments in active markets;


Class B: prices of recent transactions for identical instruments; and


Class C: valuation techniques using observable and unobservable market data.




The financial assets and liabilities measured at fair value in the Statement of Financial Position are grouped into the fair value hierarchy at the reporting date as follows:








Class C







Observable

Unobservable





Class A

Class B

Inputs

Inputs

Total


As at 31 December 2015

Note

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000


Financial assets at fair value through profit or loss








Quoted equities

a)

1,107,402

-

-

-

1,107,402


Quoted preference shares

a)

6,875

-

-

-

6,875


Quoted bonds

b)

127,326

31,518

-

-

158,844


Foreign exchange forward contracts

c)

-

-

351

-

351




______

______

______

______

______


Total


1,241,603

31,518

351

-

1,273,472




______

______

______

______

______


Net fair value


1,241,603

31,518

351

-

1,273,472




______

______

______

______

______













Class C







Observable

Unobservable





Class A

Class B

Inputs

Inputs

Total


As at 31 December 2014

Note

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000


Financial assets at fair value through profit or loss








Quoted equities

a)

1,225,696

-

-

-

1,225,696


Quoted preference shares

a)

6,566

-

-

-

6,566


Quoted bonds

b)

144,106

31,964

-

-

176,070




______

______

______

______

______


Total


1,376,368

31,964

-

-

1,408,332




______

______

______

______

______




Financial liabilities at fair value through profit or loss








Foreign exchange forward contracts

c)

-

-

(370)

-

(370)




______

______

______

______

______


Net fair value


1,376,368

31,964

(370)

-

1,407,962




______

______

______

______

______





a)

Quoted equities and preference shares



The fair value of the Company's investments in quoted equities and preference shares has been determined by reference to their quoted bid prices at the reporting date. Quoted equities and preference shares included in Fair Value Class A are actively traded on recognised stock exchanges.


b)

Quoted bonds



The fair value of the Company's investments in quoted bonds has been determined by reference to their quoted bid prices at the reporting date. Bonds included in Fair Value Classes A and B include Government Bonds and Corporate Bonds. Investments categorised as Class B are not considered to trade in active markets.


c)

Foreign exchange forward contracts



The fair value of the Company's investment in foreign exchange forward contracts has been determined in relation to models using observable market inputs and hence are categorised in Fair Value Class C - Observable inputs.

 

19.

Capital management policies and procedures


The investment objective of the Company is to achieve a total return greater than its benchmark by investing predominantly in equities worldwide.




The capital of the Company consists of bank borrowings and equity, comprising issued capital, reserves and retained earnings. The Company manages its capital to ensure that it will be able to continue as a going concern while maximising the return to shareholders through the optimisation of the debt and equity balance.




The Board monitors and reviews the broad structure of the Company's capital on an ongoing basis. This review includes :


the planned level of gearing which takes into account the Investment Manager's views on the market;


the level of equity shares in issue; and


the extent to which revenue in excess of that which is required to be distributed should be retained.




The Company's objectives, policies and processes for managing capital are unchanged from the preceding accounting period.




Details of the Company's gearing facilities and financial covenants are detailed in note 13 of the financial statements.

 

20.

Related party transactions


Directors' fees and interests


Fees payable during the year to the Directors and their interests in shares of the Company are disclosed within the Directors' Remuneration Report in the Annual Report.




Management contract arrangements


Following a review, a restructuring of the management fee arrangements for the Company has been agreed between the Board and the Manager. The performance fee has been discontinued and the annual management fee will now be charged on net assets (ie excluding borrowings) on a tiered basis ("Net Assets").




Previously the base level of the annual management fee was set at 0.5% of net assets including borrowings for investment purposes. From 1 January 2016 onwards the annual fee will be charged at 0.575% of Net Assets up to £1,200 million, 0.5% of Net Assets between £1,200 million and £1,400 million, and 0.425% of Net Assets above £1,400 million.




The termination notice period of the management contract has also been reduced from 12 months to 6 months.

 

21.

Transactions with the Manager


The Company has agreements with Aberdeen Fund Managers Limited ("AFML") for the provision of investment management, secretarial, accounting and administration and promotional activity services and remainder of this note should be read in the context of changes made to the management contract arrangements subsequent to the year end which are detailed in note 20 above.




The management fee for the period to 31 December 2015 was payable quarterly in arrears based on an annual amount of 0.5% of the value of total assets, less unlisted investments and all current liabilities excluding monies borrowed to finance the investment objectives of the Company, averaged over the six previous quarters. A fee of 1.5% per annum was chargeable on the value of unlisted investments. The investment management fee was chargeable 30% to revenue and 70% to capital, after deduction of the secretarial fee. During the year £7,027,000 (2014 - £7,217,000) of investment management fees were earned by the Manager, with a balance of £1,703,000 (2014 - £1,793,000) being payable to AFML at the year end.




Included within the charge of 0.5% above was a secretarial fee of £100,000 per annum which was chargeable 100% to revenue. During the year £100,000 (2014 - £100,000) of secretarial fees were earned by the Manager, with a balance of £25,000 (2014 - £25,000) being payable to AFML at the year end.




In addition the Manager was entitled to a performance fee on the following basis:


a fee of 5% of the first 2% of any outperformance of the Company's net asset total return over that of its benchmark;


a fee of 10% of any additional outperformance against the benchmark.




During the year £nil (2014 - £nil) performance fees were earned by the Manager.




The total amount of the fee earned by the Manager in any one year (comprising the basic management fee and performance fee) was capped at 0.8% of the average value of the Company's total assets less current liabilities. Any performance fee was paid in equal instalments over a four year period with any underperformance offset against the fee payable.




No fees have been charged in the case of investments managed or advised by the Aberdeen Asset Management Group. Up to 31 December 2015 the management agreement was terminable by either party on the expiry of one year's written notice. On termination the Manager would be entitled to receive fees which would otherwise have been due up to that date.




The promotional activities fee was based on a current annual amount of £425,000, effective 1 October 2015, previously £500,000, payable quarterly in arrears. During the year £485,000 (2014 - £504,000) of fees were earned by the Manager, with a balance of £104,000 (2014 - £122,000) being payable to AFML at the year end.

 

The Annual Financial Report Announcement is not the Company's statutory accounts. The above results for the year ended 31 December 2015 are an abridged version of the Company's full Annual Report and financial statements, which have been approved and audited with an unqualified report. The 2014 and 2015 statutory accounts received unqualified reports from the Company's auditors and did not include any reference to matters to which the auditor drew attention by way of emphasis without qualifying the reports, and did not contain a statement under s.498 of the Companies Act 2006. The financial information for 2014 is derived from the statutory accounts for 2014 which have been delivered to the Registrar of Companies. The 2015 financial statements will be filed with the Registrar of Companies in due course.

 

The Annual Report will be posted to shareholders in March 2016 and additional copies will be available from the registered office of the Company and on the Company's website, www.murray-intl.co.uk*

 

The Annual General Meeting will be held at 12.30 pm on 26 April 2016 at the Mermaid Conference Centre, Puddle Dock, Blackfriars, London EC4V 3DB.

 

Please note that past performance is not necessarily a guide to the future and that the value of investments and the income from them may fall as well as rise and may be affected by exchange rate movements.  Investors may not get back the amount they originally invested.

 

*Neither the content of the Company's website nor the content of any website accessible from hyperlinks on the Company's website (or any other website) is (or is deemed to be) incorporated into, or forms (or is deemed to form) part of this announcement.

 

 

For Murray International Trust PLC

Aberdeen Asset Management PLC, Secretaries

11 March 2016

 

 



13    SUMMARY OF INVESTMENT CHANGES DURING THE YEAR

 


Valuation

Appreciation/


Valuation


31 December 2015

(depreciation)

Transactions

31 December 2014


£'000

%

£'000

£'000

£'000

%

Equities







United Kingdom

137,793

10.7

(34,592)

12,741

159,644

11.2

North America

218,139

17.0

(8,838)

5,284

221,693

15.5

Europe ex UK

233,518

18.2

(24,572)

1,857

256,233

17.9

Japan

47,987

3.7

4,443

12,410

31,134

2.2

Asia Pacific ex Japan

260,559

20.3

(16,996)

6,484

271,071

19.0

Latin America

196,605

15.3

(27,756)

(34,611)

258,972

18.1

Africa

12,801

1.0

(14,148)

-

26,949

1.9


______

______

______

______

______

______


1,107,402

86.2

(122,459)

4,165

1,225,696

85.8


______

______

______

______

______

______








Fixed income







United Kingdom

6,875

0.5

309

-

6,566

0.4

Asia Pacific ex Japan

52,262

4.1

(4,355)

5,885

50,732

3.5

Latin America

93,376

7.3

(12,362)

(175)

105,913

7.4

Africa

13,206

1.0

(6,286)

67

19,425

1.4


______

______

______

______

______

______


165,719

12.9

(22,694)

5,777

182,636

12.7


______

______

______

______

______

______

Other net assets

12,072

0.9

(8,775)

-

20,847

1.5


______

______

______

______

______

______

Total assets{A}

1,285,193

100.0

(153,928)

9,942

1,429,179

100.0


______

______

______

______

______

______








 

 



14    TWENTY LARGEST INVESTMENTS

 

As at 31 December 2015

 



Valuation

Total

Valuation



2015

assets{A}

2014

Company

Country

£'000

%

£'000

1 (2)

British American Tobacco{B}





British American Tobacco is the holding company for a group of companies that manufacture, market and sell cigarettes and other tobacco products. The group sells over 300 brands in approximately 180 markets around the world.

UK & Malaysia

61,398

4.8

59,873

2 (1)

Aeroporto del Sureste ADS





Grupo Aeroporto del Sureste operates airports in Mexico. The company holds long-term concessions to manage airports in leading tourist resorts such as Cancun and Cozumel, plus cities such as Oaxaca, Veracruz and Merida.

Mexico

57,264

4.5

63,189

3 (3)

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing





Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is one of the largest integrated circuit manufacturers in the world. The company is involved in component design, wafer manufacturing, assembly, testing and mask production of integrated circuits which are used in the computer, communication and electronics industries.

Taiwan

51,397

4.0

49,615

4 (4)

Unilever Indonesia





Unilever Indonesia, a majority owned subsidiary of Unilever NV, manufactures soaps, detergents, margarine, oil and cosmetics. The company also produces dairy based foods, ice cream and tea beverages.

Indonesia

47,220

3.7

46,760

5 (6)

Philip Morris International





Spun out from the Altria Group in 2008, Philip Morris International is one of the world's leading global tobacco companies. It manufactures and sells leading recognisable brands such as Marlboro, Parliament and Virginia Slims.

USA

46,512

3.6

40,740

6 (5)

Taiwan Mobile





Taiwan Mobile is the leading provider of cellular telecommunications services in Taiwan. Although predominantly a wireless network operator, the company also sells and leases cellular telephony equipment.

Taiwan

43,030

3.3

44,323

7 (11)

Nordea





Nordea is a financial services group that provides banking services, financial products and related advisory services. The company's activities include investment banking, deposit and credit services, insurance products and securities trading. Nordea predominantly services the Scandinavian countries and the Baltic region.

Sweden

37,683

2.9

32,767

8 (7)

Roche Holdings





Roche Holdings develops and manufactures pharmaceutical and diagnostic products. The company produces prescription drugs in the areas of cardiovascular, respiratory diseases, dermatology, metabolic disorders, oncology and organ transplantation.

Switzerland

37,468

2.9

38,310

9 (12)

Fomento Economico Mexicano





Fomento Economico Mexicano (FEMSA) produces, distributes and markets non-alcoholic beverages throughout Latin America as part of the Coca Cola system. The company also owns and operates OXXO convenience stores in Mexico and Colombia and holds a stake in the Heineken brewing company.

Mexico

34,697

2.7

32,169

10 (17)

Pepsico





Pepsico operates worldwide beverage, snack and food businesses. The Company manufactures or use contract manufacturers, markets and sells a variety of grain-based snacks, carbonated and non-carbonated beverages and various food products. Pepsico is a global company with operations in numerous countries throughout the world.

USA

33,883

2.6

30,322

Top ten investments


450,552

35.0







{B} Holding comprises UK and Malaysia securities split £40,350,000 (2014 - £37,450,000) and £21,048,000 (2014 - £22,423,000).


11 (14)

Singapore Telecommunications





Singapore Telecommunications is a communications company providing a diverse range of communications services including fixed-line telephony, mobile, data, internet, satellite and pay television. The company operates throughout the Asian Pacific region.

Singapore

33,349

2.6

31,710

12 (13)

Verizon Communications





Verizon Communications is an integrated telecommunications company based in New York that provides wire line voice and data services, wireless services, internet services and published directory information. The Company also provides network services for the Federal Government.

USA

33,204

2.6

31,749

13 (15)

Daito Trust Construction     





Daito Trust Construction operates building construction and property leasing businesses. The Company plans and constructs private apartments and commercial buildings mainly for land owners throughout Japan. Daito Trust also provides brokerage and maintenance services.

 Japan

31,596

2.5

31,134

14 (9)

Zurich Financial Services





Zurich provides insurance-based financial services. The company offers general and life insurance products and services for individuals, small businesses, commercial enterprises, mid-sized and large corporations plus multinational companies.

Switzerland

31,513

2.4

36,213

15 (19)

Total





Total is a fully integrated international energy company involved in exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing of oil and natural gas. The company also operates a chemical division which produces polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, rubber, paint, ink, adhesives and resins.

 France

30,413

2.4

28,705

16 (8)

Telus





Telus is a telecommunications company providing a variety of communication products and services. The company provides voice, data, internet and wireless services to businesses and consumers throughout Canada.

Canada

29,852

2.3

37,094

17 (-)

Johnson & Johnson





Johnson & Johnson manufactures health-care products and provides related services for consumer, pharmaceutical and medical devices and diagnostic markets, The company has numerous leading branded products, particularly in skin care and hair care products, and has extensive distribution agreements to sell its products worldwide.

 USA

27,869

2.2

26,826

18 (-)

Kimberly Clark de Mexico





Kimberly Clark de Mexico manufactures, markets and distributes consumer, industrial and institutional hygiene products. The company produces diapers, toilet paper and facial tissues, that it distributes and sells throughout Mexico.

 Mexico

26,853

2.1

23,685

19 (-)

Sociedad Quimica Y Minera De Chile





Quimica Y Minera produces and markets specialist fertilizers including potassium nitrate, sodium nitrate and potassium sulfate for the agricultural industry. The company also produces industrial chemicals, iodine and lithium.

Chile

22,571

1.7

22,953

20 (-)

Public Bank





Public Bank provides a range of banking and financial services which include leasing and factoring, stock and futures broking, financing for the purchase of licensed public vehicles and various other financial services. The group's overseas operations include branches in Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Vietnam.

 Malaysia

22,535

1.7

25,761

Top twenty investments


740,307

57.5


{A} The total assets less current liabilities as shown on the Balance Sheet with the addition of Prior Charges (the name given to all borrowings including debentures, long term loans and short term loans and overdrafts that are to be used for investment purposes, reciprocal foreign currency loans, currency facilities to the extent that they are drawn down, index-linked securities, and all types of preference or preferred capital and the income shares of split capital trusts, irrespective of the time until repayment).

 

The value of the 20 largest investments represents 57.5% (2014 - 52.9%) of total assets. The figures in brackets denote the position at the previous year end. (-) denotes not previously in 20 largest investments.

 

 



Portfolio of Investments - Other Investments

 



Valuation

Total

Valuation



2015

assets{A}

2014

Company

Country

£'000

%

£'000

HSBC

UK

21,984

1.7

23,735

Royal Dutch Shell

UK

20,985

1.6

30,369

CME Group

USA

19,664

1.5

-

Banco Bradesco{C}

Brazil

19,208

1.5

28,910

ENI

Italy

19,020

1.5

21,058

Standard Chartered

UK

18,844

1.5

23,779

Republic of Venezuela 5.75% 26/02/2016

USA

18,268

1.4

12,314

Tenaris ADR

Mexico

17,747

1.4

21,326

Novartis

Switzerland

17,649

1.4

17,872

Casino

France

17,646

1.4

33,508

Top thirty investments


931,322

72.4


Japan Tobacco

Japan

16,391

1.3

-

Vodafone Group

UK

15,470

1.2

7,287

Vale do Rio Doce{D}

Brazil & USA

15,365

1.2

28,144

Petroleos Mexicanos 5.5% 27/06/44

Mexico

15,313

1.2

19,625

Nestlé

Switzerland

15,159

1.2

16,468

Engie

France

15,156

1.2

19,000

Baxter International

USA

13,970

1.1

25,382

Telefonica Brasil

Brazil

13,892

1.1

25,725

Republic of South Africa 7% 28/02/31

South Africa

13,206

1.0

19,425

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan

Canada

13,185

1.0

25,861

Top forty investments


1,078,429

83.9


Federal Republic of Brazil 10% 01/01/17

Brazil

13,046

1.0

18,329

Coca-Cola Amatil

Australia

12,922

1.0

13,813

MTN

South Africa

12,801

1.0

26,949

Swire Pacific 'B'

Hong Kong

12,449

1.0

13,695

Oversea-Chinese Bank

Singapore

12,309

1.0

14,238

BHP Billiton

Australia

12,160

0.9

22,216

Bharti Airtel International 5.125% 11/03/23

India

11,940

0.9

11,636

Atlas Copco

Sweden

11,812

0.9

12,332

Republic of Indonesia 7.0% 15/05/22

Indonesia

11,614

0.9

9,887

Republic of Indonesia 6.125% 15/05/28

Indonesia

11,593

0.9

9,928

Top fifty investments


1,201,075

93.4


Hypermarcas 6.5% 20/04/21

USA

11,005

0.9

10,800

Petroleos De Venezuela 5.25% 12/04/17

Venezuela

10,079

0.8

8,850

Republic of Indonesia 8.375% 15/03/34

Indonesia

9,218

0.7

10,434

Wilson & Sons

Brazil

8,489

0.7

11,038

Weir Group

UK

8,000

0.6

14,808

Federal Republic of Brazil 10% 01/01/18

Brazil

6,184

0.5

9,008

PTT Exploration and Production

Thailand

4,299

0.3

8,733

Republic of Indonesia 9.5% 15/07/23

Indonesia

3,950

0.3

4,428

Republic of Indonesia 10% 15/02/28

Indonesia

3,947

0.3

4,419

General Accident 7.875% Cum Irred Pref

UK

3,472

0.3

3,416

Top sixty investments


1,269,718

98.8


Santander 10.375% Non Cum Pref

UK

3,403

0.3

3,150

Total investments


1,273,121

99.1


Net current assets


12,072

0.9


Total assets{A}


1,285,193

100.0


{A}         The total assets less current liabilities as shown on the Balance Sheet with the addition of Prior Charges (the name given to all borrowings including debentures, long term loans and short term loans and overdrafts that are to be used for investment purposes, reciprocal foreign currency loans, currency facilities to the extent that they are drawn down, index-linked securities, and all types of preference or preferred capital and the income shares of split capital trusts, irrespective of the time until repayment)

{C}         Holding comprises equity and fixed income securities split £10,161,000 (2014 - £19,527,000) and £9,047,000 (2014 - £9,383,000).

{D}         Holding comprises equity and fixed income securities split £4,931,000 (2014 - £13,270,000) and £10,434,000 (2014 - £14,874,000).

 


This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange
 
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