China trust woos small investors

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The Independent Online
INSTITUTIONAL investors have largely held back from investing in Fleming Chinese Investment Trust, which yesterday announced that it has raised pounds 60m and could have taken pounds 85m.

Most of the money has come from private investors or stockbrokers acting on their behalf. All but 5 per cent of the pounds 15m raised in the public offer has come from private investors.

Fleming Investment Trust Management received applications for 40.6 million pounds 1 shares, making the offer 1.7 times oversubscribed. Its allotment favoured smaller investors. To Fleming's surprise, private investors put up a very high proportion of the money invested in the pounds 45m placing. Nicholas Prowse, a director of FITM, said some institutions were worried that the Hong Kong stock market was too high. Fleming Chinese will initially invest the bulk of its money in Hong Kong and other Far East economies expected to benefit from China's rapid economic growth.

Mr Prowse said the institutions also blamed their reluctance to invest on cash-flow strains. They have also been asked to invest in numerous rights issues and newly floated companies. Some were constrained by the heavy overseas weighting of their investment portfolios, or believed they were capable of investing alone in China and the region.

Dealings in the warrants and shares of Fleming Chinese should begin next Tuesday. Lord Mark Fitzalan Howard, chairman of FITM, said the strength of interest from private investors was 'a great step forward in Fleming's objective of broadening the ownership by individuals of its investment trusts'.

Investors who applied for 1,500 shares in the public offer will be alloted 1,000, those who wanted 5,000 will get 1,800, and those who wanted between 10,000 and 25,000 will receive 2,900. Applicants seeking more than 30,000 shares will receive between 10 and 4.6 per cent of the number they wanted.