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Saracen claims bid support

The letters of support for HSBC Asset Management in its bid to take over the running of the poorly performing Saracen Value Trust from SFM Investment Management were not watertight commitments, Mr Jim Fisher, the SFM director on the Saracen board claimed last night. HSBC had not yet complied with his request to show him the letter.

Several of the shareholders had told him that they had also asked HSBC to pass a copy of the letter to the board of the trust. There may also be two or three different letters of commitment, added Mr Fisher.

The Saracen board will meet on Monday to consider several options for improving the performance of the trust, which specialises in "value investment" in small companies - which are currently deeply out of fashion.

SVT shares trade at a discount of 17-18 per cent to net asset value, although they gained 2p to 96.5p yesterday.

The HSBC proposal will be considered at Monday's meeting, but Mr Fisher ruled out any change of investment policy. He believed investment preferences could change back at any time in favour of small companies with potential for earnings growth.