Scottish Value keeps options open on Kepit sale

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The Independent Online
Scottish Value Trust, which holds nearly 4 per cent of the embattled Kleinwort European Privatisation Investment Trust, Kepit, is keeping its options open as the battle for control of the pounds 500m trust escalates.

Colin Maclean, managing director of Scottish Value Management which runs the Scottish Value Trust, said: "We have not rejected the proposals from TR European and are waiting for any other proposals to emerge."

On Tuesday, Kepit adjourned a shareholders' meeting at which investors had been expected to vote on proposals from Kleinwort to turn up to 60 per cent of the fund into loan stock, which it could repurchase to reduce the discount at which the shares currently trade to the value of its assets. Shane Ross, chairman of the Kepit independent board, told small shareholders on Tuesday that the trust had received a bid from TR European Growth Trust, and proposals from Deutsche Morgan Grenfell Trust Managers to take over management of the fund, as well as four other proposals which he declined to specify.

Mr Ross urged shareholders to reject the TR proposals as its fees could be up to pounds 4m plus other undisclosed costs.

But Mr Maclean said that in order to justify the rejection, the cost of other options should also be known. "It seems strange that the chairman is so set against the Touche Remnant proposals when we do not have formal details of the Kleinwort Benson Investment Management proposals or of any others. Any fees could end up being much of a muchness," he said.

Scottish Value, which bought its stake in May, believes that poor performance is the reason Kepit is under attack rather than its rival Mercury European Privatisation Investment Trust, which is also returning money to shareholders.

"When Kleinwort launched the fund, they thought they would get a better entry to European privatisations than rivals. This has turned out not to be true when you compare performance with Mercury, TR and other European investment trusts," Mr Maclean said.

TR European said in its offer that it was the top performing trust, in terms of net asset value performance, in the general section of the Continental Europe sector over six months, one year and two years.