Hitches hold back new investment companies

Trust managers may be hesitating to convert their funds into the newly-permitted Open Ended Investment Companies (OEICs) because of administrative difficulties, according to Clifford Chance investment partner James Barlow.

The Government introduced legislation to allow UK OEICs in January this year and the first one, Global Asset Management, was set up only last month. But this was a new fund rather than a conversion from an existing unit trust fund.

Oeics are effectively companies run by directors with shareholders owning shares rather than trust funds run by managers with individual investors owning units. They are already common on the Continent and the UK Government has introduced them to allow UK companies to better market investment funds in Europe where Oeics are more readily understood.

But in a newsletter to clients, Barlow commented that despite the introduction of legislation “there has been no announcement by managers of authorised unit trusts to establish Oeics or to convert any of their existing unit trusts to Oeics. No doubt managers are concerned about the changes which will need to be made to their computer systems to cope with the differences between unit trusts and Oeics.”

Under Oeic legislation, the daily valuation of units, or shares, as they will become, will be calculated in a different way. Instead of having a bid price and an offer price, each share will have a single price.

In addition, he said, there will be extra administrative, duties associated with running a company.