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GHAM and Harwood Capital battle spreads

By Jessica Tasman-Jones, Portfolio Adviser, 23 Dec 21

Strategic Equity Capital shareholders seek to drop Ken Wotton a year after his appointment and join forces with Odyssean

The terse battle between Gresham House Asset Management and Harwood Capital over Gresham House Strategic appears to have spilled over into a new investment trust with shareholders in Strategic Equity Capital approaching the board of the Odyssean Investment Trust seeking a £371m merger.

The move would see lead manager Ken Wotton (pictured), from GHAM, dropped as investment manager to be replaced by Odyssean fund managers Stuart Widdowson and Ed Wielechowski.

The £221m Odyssean investment trust, which has links to Harwood Capital, has received letters supporting the transaction from shareholders representing 32.9% of Strategic Equity Capital…

GHAM only took over as investment manager of the investment trust in May 2020 in place of GVQ IM, which the board dropped due to concerns about the boutique firm’s resourcing, both in the investment team and the sales and marketing department. It had been trading at a persistent double-digit discount in the lead up to GHAM being appointed.

Incumbent managers Jeff Harris and Khanbhai joined GHAM as part of the changeover but Wotton (pictured) took over in October that year after Harris departed the business.

But just over a year later shareholders representing a third of votes are seeking Odyssean to takeover the mandate, despite performance keeping pace with the sector over the last year. Odyssean Capital, which runs the trust, is a joint venture between Harwood Capital and Widdowson.

QuotedData head of investment companies James Carthew points out Widdowson was once a manager of Strategic Equity Capital, while he was employed at GVQ IM. “Strategic Equity Capital has outperformed Odyssean over the last 12 months in both NAV and share price terms, but Odyssean trades at a premium, whereas Strategic Equity Capital trades at an undeserved discount,” Carthew said.

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