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What to buy, what to sell: why regional fund managers are worth a look

Why regional fund managers are worth a look, and how to invest in Spanish and French commercial property.

Why regional fund managers are worth a look, and how to invest in Spanish and French commercial property.

Out of town, but in profit

They may be out of town, but Britain's regional fund managers aren't out of touch, says Jeff Prestridge in The Mail on Sunday. Thanks to the internet, and video and phone conferencing, working from outside London means that they can avoid the hype of the City, while still getting all the information they need to trade.

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Particularly successful recently has been Leeds-based Rensburg. The firm comes across as unassuming, but boasts a "wealth of stock-picking talent": its £325m UK Select Growth Trust fund has been managed by Mark Hall since its launch in 2001, and has returned 140% since then, putting it in the top 10% of all the funds in the UK All-Companies sector.

Further south, Oxfordshire-based Invesco Perpetual looks good, says Hargreaves Lansdown's Ben Yearsley the Invesco Income fund has gone up 21% in the past year, and the group's Asian and Global Dynamic theme funds have registered returns of 20% and 9% respectively.

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Scotland is the next place to look for canny fund managers, says Stephen Womack, also in The Mail on Sunday. Among Womack's leading groups is Artemis, "one of the success stories of the past decade", plus one of Scotland's "most respected" groups, Baillie Gifford, which has seen "rapid growth" and Britannic Asset Management. Britannic's new property fund particularly "catches the eye" for its attractive 4% yield (after charges) and ability to invest "entirely in real bricks and mortar". For an up-and-coming outfit, look at Edinburgh's Aegon Asset Management Mike Owen of Plan Invest Group recommends their Optimum Income and Ethical Income funds.

New opportunities in Europe

Patrick Evershed's New Star Select Opportunities fund is constantly on the look out as it should be for new opportunity. And Evershed seems to think he has found some in Spanish and French commercial property. The well-respected fund manager has put £1.75m (1% of his fund's assets) into the newly floated Alpha Pyrenees trust, which plans to invest £480m in 30 properties in France and Spain (focusing on the industrial, office, logistics and retail sectors) and expects to deliver a dividend yield of 7% once fully invested. Evershed tells MoneyWeek that not only is he "very positive" about the European market (investors can borrow at 4% and get yields of 8%), but he also has real confidence in the managers of Alpha Real Capital: Philip Rose, former head of real estate at ABN Amro, and Sir John Beckwith, founder of Liontrust Asset Management. According to Evershed, Beckwith has "an impeccable track record".

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