The best and the worst: Offshore gilt funds tempt non-taxpayers

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The Independent Online
INVESTORS seeking income may be attracted to gilt and fixed-interest funds based offshore that can pay income gross - a useful feature for non-taxpayers.

Some offshore gilt funds, such as Cater Allen's pounds 30m Gilt Income, offer investors an artifically high dividend by milking some of the fund's capital. Michael Lawrence, the managing director of Cater Allen Jersey, says performance statistics will always show his company's fund in a poor light because so much of its capital is being used to pay these high dividends.

Also, when performance- monitoring statistics assume these are reinvested, they are being reduced by front-end charges. In reality, says Mr Lawrence, most investors have the dividend paid out to them because they want to draw an income, so this does not suffer the initial charge.

The Cater Allen fund has a yield of about 16 per cent at present. Mr Lawrence suggested that investors should treat the income fund more like an annuity than a fund aiming for capital growth.

Hafnia Prolific's fund has about 75 per cent of its money in UK convertibles, issued by companies, and most convertibles have performed badly in the past three years. However, Hafnia Prolific believes that its return over three years is about 19 per cent, not the 4.4 per cent quoted by Finstat.

The total returns on index- linked gilts over three years have not been as good as on conventional gilts, which explains the ranking of the Guinness Flight index-linked fund. But this fund is ranked first in its sector over three months, reflecting a strong performance in the index- linked gilt sector since Britain pulled out of the ERM - bringing new worries about inflation.

----------------------------------------------------------------- THE BEST AND THE WORST ----------------------------------------------------------------- Offshore gilt and bond funds The best % 1 Hypo Foreign & Col Reserve Asset Sterl Bonds . . . . .52.2 2 TSB Gilt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51.7 3 NEL Brit Sterling Fixed Interest . . . . . . . . . . .51.4 4 Int'l Bk of Ireland Int'l High Inc Gilt . . . . . . . 50.0 4 Hansard UK Fixed Interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50.0 The worst 43 Cater Allen Gilt Income . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32.1 44 Finistere Sterling Fixed Interest . . . . . . . . . . 29.3 45 Royal Trust Gov't Securities . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.1 46 Guinness Flight Global Strat Index-linked Gilt . . . .26.7 47 Prolific UK Convertible & Bond . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.4 Percentage increase in value of units over three years to 1 December, offer to offer, income reinvested Source: Finstat -----------------------------------------------------------------

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