Worsley Investors will target small listed UK companies

Three of London’s most experienced and successful activist investors over the past 20 years have come together to launch Worsley Asset Management. Following regulatory approval, they are seeking investors for their investment vehicle, Worsley Investors, which targets small listed companies in the UK.

Worsley Investors will target small listed UK companies
Worsley Investors will target small listed UK companies

Worsley Investors is to be managed by Blake Nixon and Max Lesser – who between them successfully ran Guinness Peat Group plc’s UK investment operations, whose return over the 2000s comfortably exceeded the group’s compound NAV per share growth of some 15% p.a. between 1992 and 2010.

The deep value activist fund has been seeded by Christopher Mills, co-founder and investment director of JO Hambros for much of the last 20 years, who now owns and runs Harwood Capital Management, and himself one of the pioneers of UK activism.

Worsley’s managers believe there is significant opportunity to liberate value in small cap stocks, where structural gaps in boards’ accountability often lead to material divergences between share prices and their latent value.

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The investment opportunity is especially attractive in small cap companies. Lesser says: “There are many more companies at this end of the market and they receive substantially less attention from investors with Worsley’s skill set.”

Worsley’s launch comes during a period in which activist investing has been much in focus, both in the markets and in the media covering them. Nixon comments: “Activism in the late noughties came to mean different things to different people, often being associated with noisy campaigns to generate a short term price rise or sale process. In contrast, Worsley follows GPG’s lead of seeking sustainably improved shareholder value.”

Mills, who manages the North Atlantic Smaller Companies Investment Trust and Oryx International Growth Fund through Harwood, explains why he has decided to seed Worsley: ”I have known the GPG UK team for fifteen years, during which time they had a great many successes and we were involved together in a number of very profitable activist investments. I am delighted to be backing them in their new venture.”

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