Crys­tal Am­ber hold­ings up a third to £201m as its tough tac­tics in in­vest­ment pay off

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By

Alan Tovey AC­TIVIST in­vestor Crys­tal Am­ber’s suc­cess­ful cam­paigns have in­creased its value by 33pc over the past year.

An­nual ac­counts from the listed busi­ness be­hind the in­vestor that tar­gets mid-sized com­pa­nies re­veal that its net as­set value was £201m at the end of June, up from £151.5m a year ago. Led by City vet­eran Richard Bern­stein, Crys­tal Am­ber’s ap­pear­ance on the share­holder regis­ter of­ten causes fear in the board­rooms of the com­pa­nies it in­vests in, with the ac­tivists likely to ag­i­tate for a change that will im­prove its tar­get’s share price and some­times see them taken over. An­nounc­ing the re­sults, Wil­liam Collins, the chair­man, said “most of the fund’s ac­tivism takes place in pri­vate, but we are will­ing to make our con­cerns pub­lic when ap­pro­pri­ate,” as Crys­tal Am­ber seeks to “re­lease … hid­den or trapped value”.

He added that the re­sponse of man­age­ment at com­pa­nies the fund in­vests in “has gen­er­ally been en­cour­ag­ing”. Dur­ing the year the com­pany ex­ited its po­si­tions in prop­erty com­pany Grainger, film stu­dio Pinewood and Frankie & Benny’s owner The Restau­rant Group, re­ceiv­ing £12.7m, and re­duced its stake in oil ex­plorer Hur­ri­cane, gen­er­at­ing £15.7m.

To­tal net re­alised gains for the year were £19.3m, in­clud­ing losses on de­riv­a­tives. Of Crys­tal Am­ber’s ma­jor hold­ings, un­der­per­form­ers in­cluded the Sutton Har­bour ma­rina in Ply­mouth, and Ocado, which each ac­count for less than 5pc of the fund’s net as­set value.

The fund is ex­plor­ing sale for Sutton Har­bour, but said op­tions Ocado’s ex­per­tise in on­line gro­cery sales has the po­ten­tial to be a “game changer”.

It added that Amazon’s re­cent ac­qui­si­tion of Whole Foods has “sent tremors through the gro­cery mar­ket”, which Crys­tal Am­ber ex­pects to “force” other re­tail­ers to “ad­dress their on­line ca­pa­bil­ity”, po­ten­tially buy­ing in Ocado’s sys­tem.

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