Standard Life trust sees higher deal rate

Standard Life European Private Equity Trust (SLEPET), the listed investment trust managed by Standard Life Investments, has reported a ‘satisfactory’ result against ‘political and economic uncertainty’.

Despite uncertainty in the market, SLEPET has posted a steady set of results amid improving conditions for making new investments.  

In the year ended September 30 2003, the trust’s net asset value per ordinary share (NAV) rose 3.7 per cent to 93.6p, from 90.3p the previous year. Since listing in May 2001, the company’s NAV has fallen 5.2 per cent, compared with falls of 28.9 per cent on the FTSE All Share Index and 31.1 per cent on the MSCI Europe Index.

The trust was launched with a mature and diverse portfolio of 19 private equity fund investments and has since added a further 11. The 30 private equity fund interests – in buyout funds including Apax Partners, CVC and Duke Street Capital – had a value of £126.9m at the end of the reporting period, compared with £86.7m a year previously. A further £22m is held in cash and other net assets.

More positive conditions for new investments resulted in draw downs of £52.6m over the year, compared with £36m in the previous 12 months. In a statement, Standard Life said this ‘reflected an attractive pricing and competitive environment for buyout funds to complete transactions.”

“There are great buying opportunities as sell-offs continue apace,” said Jonny Maxwell, CEO of Standard Life Investments. “But in terms of realisations there’s room for improvement. There are still some skittish views of the economy – people aren’t sure if it’s set fair or not. There are also different outlooks depending on which European jurisdiction you’re talking about – in Germany, for example, there is not great visibility.”       

He added that the trust wanted to generate more cash flow before making any new commitments to funds, but ‘continues to monitor the situation’. He said the average vintage year for funds in the portfolio is 1996/97.  

In September, Standard Life Investments held an E892m third close of its European Strategic Partners II European fund of funds. In total, the firm manages around E1.8bn in private equity.