Fleming Claverhouse seeks to raise 50m pounds

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FLEMING Claverhouse, a pounds 95m trust that invests in leading UK companies, is to raise more money through an issue of shares aimed at private investors, writes Paul Durman.

Nicholas Prowse, a director of Fleming Investment Trust Management, said: 'We would be very happy to get pounds 50m.' The trust is issuing 100 million pounds 1 shares to minimise the likelihood of having to scale down investors' applications.

The new money will initially be invested in short-lived conversion shares. This pool of cash will bear the issue costs (3.5 per cent of the total raised) and will then be invested. The new shares will convert into ordinary shares on the basis of their respective net asset values no later than the end of July and probably sooner. This process enables Fleming Claverhouse to avoid diluting the interests of its existing shareholders.

Fleming Claverhouse's popularity with private investors, who own nearly 65 per cent of the trust, has helped push its shares to a persistent premium to its net asset value.

The premium has averaged about 6.5 per cent this year. Fleming argues that investors can more than halve the premium they must pay above net asset value by buying new conversion shares instead of existing stock available in the market.

Since its launch in 1963, the trust has achieved growth in NAV per share and its share price of more than 14 times and dividend growth of 22 times. The retail prices index has increased nine-fold over the same period.