Kleinwort out of investment plan

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The Independent Online
PROPOSALS by Kleinwort Benson and Sturge Underwriting to launch an investment trust for corporate investors in the Lloyd's insurance market have been abruptly terminated only days after names at Lloyd's voted to allow corporate capital into the market.

It is the first casualty among a flurry of new investment trusts that were planned in anticipation of last Wednesday's vote.

'Sturge decided it does not want to proceed,' said Kieran Murphy, of Kleinwort Benson, adding that Sturge believed it had insufficient underwriting capacity to cope with the level of interest expressed by potential corporate investors. He would not say whether Kleinwort Benson would seek other partners.

Six trusts have already published pathfinder prospectuses, and another 10 have said they intend to launch funds.

There are doubts about whether there is sufficient quality underwriting capacity available to satisy an influx of up to pounds 1bn in corporate money.

First out of the starting blocks will be HCG Lloyd's Investment Trust, with a launch due on Tuesday - at least a week ahead of most competitors. Jointly backed by JO Hambro, the US-based insurer Conning & Co and Grimston Investments, the trust is believed to have raised its pounds 100m target and to have secured much of the pounds 150m underwriting capacity sought.

Stephan Christiansen, of Conning, said: 'Indications have been received from 33 syndicates which show that so far up to pounds 120m of underwriting capacity is likely to be available to us. This represents over 80 per cent of our anticipated underwriting capacity.' HCG Trust requires a minimum investment of pounds 20,000 and is directed solely at corporate investors.

CLM Insurance Fund, which is open to private investors, is close on HCG's tail. CLM was the first trust to launch its pathfinder prospectus and is thought to be planning a start next week. It has pledged to allocate a quarter of its shares to retail clients who can afford the minumum requirement of pounds 1,000.