Investment: The new giants grow in Europe

The Fund Manager: Patricia Maxwell-Arnot, Credit Suisse

PATRICIA MAXWELL-ARNOT came to the fund management business by accident. "My father was a publisher and I was thinking more in that line, although the City has been more rewarding. I read politics and economics and, like a lot of people do, had one or two temporary jobs, while I made up my mind.

"I was working for a holding company at the time of Slater-Walker when there were lots of holding companies. It was run by a stockbroker and I was a market researcher. He told me about this thing called `investment analysis' and made the classic statement that `women are rather good at it', which intrigued me. He introduced me to a book about the City called The Money Game, and I read it and I was riveted."

Her first City job was with what was then the fund- management subsidiary of Barclays Bank. "I covered all sectors of the UK market, and in 1982 I started looking at Europe." Ms Maxwell-Arnot was then at Rothschild's. She has been at Credit Suisse since 1995, joining from Lazard's to head the group's European team and launch the Credit Suisse European Fund.

"I was 10 years at Lazard's and 12 years with Rothschild's. They were heady days when I started investing in Europe, because there was a lot of ARISSA (US pension fund) money flowing from the States, and Europe was beginning to take off. Everything was cheap and under-researched, which was paradise for a fund manager. There was a huge conservatism in European companies. Having followed stocks such as Rolls-Royce and seen what could be done by a change in management attitudes, I could see a lot of scope in Europe."

Ms Maxwell-Arnot's approach to fund management is founded by a desire to keep risk to a minimum. "I have always been a risk-averse investor and one tries to beat the indices and limit the risk. This meant investing in bigger companies, which made life interesting when smaller companies were all the rage."

This helps to explain why the overall performance of the Credit Suisse European Fund has been steady. It has also suffered, in common with most unit trusts investing in Europe, from a general downturn in continental markets (the average performance for the Europe Excluding UK sector to 23 August over one year is a fall of just under 2 per cent).

She says: "We took the view late last year that there would be a global recovery, which was premature, but we felt there would be strong growth in the three main areas of the world (the US, Europe and the Far East). So we began shifting the portfolio into cyclical stocks, away from defensive stocks. Some areas, such as automotives, have been slow, but others, say Lafarge, the cement producer, have performed very strongly." With the single currency and moves to a single European market, many investment houses have been reorganising to operate on Pan-European lines. Patricia Maxwell-Arnot runs Pan-European and exclusively Continental European portfolios at Credit Suisse, but says her unit trust is a traditional non-UK fund. "It is primarily addressed to people who have UK exposure and want continental European companies in their portfolios. Most who want Pan- European funds are investors in the US or Japan."

The fund has a large-cap bias and does not hold unlisted stocks. France accounts for the largest part of the portfolio (26.8 per cent) followed by Germany (20 per cent), the Netherlands (15.1) and Sweden, Switzerland and Italy (10 to 11 per cent each).

The portfolio has 41 holdings, most of a similar size. The largest - Swiss pharmaceutical Roche - has 3.57 per cent, others such as Royal Dutch Petrol (3.48), Lafarge (3.46) and Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson (3.17).

"Europe now has giants to rival the US - look at the proposed merger between Carrefour and Promodes. We want to hold the big stocks that will dominate Europe. We are creating the new global giants here - Carrefour/ Promodes will be second only to Wal-Mart globally. There are good managements in Europe and, for once, they are not just still in the race, they are actually gaining ground."

Fundamental facts

Fund Manager: Patricia Maxwell-Arnot

Age: 51

Fund: Credit Suisse European

Size of Fund: pounds 210.24m

Fund Launched: January 1995

Manager of Fund: Since launch

Current Yield: 0.00%

Initial Charge: 5.25%

Annual Charge: 1.5%

Current Bid/Offer Spread: 5.51%

Minimum Investment: pounds 1,000 (then pounds 500)

Minimum Monthly Savings: pounds 50

Standard & Poors' Micropal Rating (maximum KKKKK): KK

Fund performance (to 9 August 1999, offer-to-bid with net income reinvested):

One Year 3.14%

Two Years 20.89%

Three Years 49.52%

Since Launch 120.25%

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy