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