Standard Life Private Equity Trust beats benchmark and closes trading discount gap

 
Lucy White
Inside The London Stock Exchange
The listed investment trust, which puts its money into private equity funds, strode ahead of the MSCI Europe Index (Source: Getty)

The Standard Life Private Equity Trust (SLPET) has revealed its first-half results, beating the benchmark and shrinking its discount.

The listed investment trust, which puts its money into private equity funds, delivered a 16.3 per cent share price total return to investors over the six months ending 31 March.

It strode ahead of the MSCI Europe Index, which only reached 11.4 per cent over the same period.

“The company continues to beneļ¬t from strong levels of exit activity across the portfolio and, subject to major shocks, the manager would expect this to continue over the course of the year,” said the trust's chairman Edmond Warner.

This trust also reported that the gap between its share price and the value of its underlying assets, which has persisted for a number of years, has finally begun to close.

The trust's shares improved from trading at a 22.8 per cent discount at the end of last September to a 16.8 per cent discount at the end of March.

This came as the net asset value (NAV) total return – effectively the change in value per share of the fund, including capital returns and dividends – increased by 7.4 per cent.

Part of the diminishing discount gap is due to the company's strong performance, according to Warner. However, he notes that discounts across the private equity investment trust sector are tightening generally.

The trust has made a number of changes recently to improve its returns. At the end of September, it announced it would broaden its geographic focus beyond Europe and remove the price limit it invests in private equity funds.

It also set a policy of paying a 12p minimum annual dividend, meaning the interim dividend of 6p announced today exceeded 2016's entire annual dividend of 5.4p.

SLPET has recently invested €34m in the IK VIII fund, which owns companies across Northern Europe, and £22m in the HgCapital 8 fund, which invests in European technology companies.

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