For the final ICG Enterprise Trust newsletter of 2023, we have passed the pen to your Chair, Jane Tufnell.
Colm, I, and the wider ICG Enterprise Trust team wish you all the very best for the last few weeks of this year, and look forward to speaking in 2024.
As I look back, 2023 has been a busy year of progress and successful execution at ICG Enterprise Trust:
- we have agreed a tiered management fee cap, resulting in increasingly meaningful savings as the vehicle grows;
- our progressive dividend policy with quarterly distributions has been reaffirmed and we view this a sacrosanct pillar of our investment proposition;
- our buyback programme has been consistently executed (a total of £13.6m deployed on 83 separate days since October 2022 at a weighted-average discount to NAV of 40%); and
- we have partnered with Cadarn to support our sales and marketing efforts.
All this in the aim of generating long-term shareholder value, seeking to ensure our investment strategy focused on defensive growth is supported by a disciplined approach to capital allocation and that we are viewed as an attractive proposition for inclusion in portfolios. As we discussed at our investor day in June, the structure of investment trusts is well suited to enable access to illiquid underlying assets, and our ambition is to be seen by long-term investors as the “go-to” UK-listed vehicle for all-weather exposure to private equity-owned businesses in the US and Europe.
The increasingly persistent discounts across the listed private equity space do remain a frustration. We were one of the first in our sector to act on this issue, and we believe our multi-pronged approach is the right one. There is no silver bullet. It will take time to see clear evidence of the cumulative impact, and potential changes to cost disclosure may also help at least part of the problem on the demand side. Notwithstanding all this, the Board remains alert to developments in the sector, regularly reviewing the effectiveness of what we and others are doing, as well as whether there are other things we should be considering.
As part of our regular engagement programme, in recent weeks I have met with several shareholders and have more meetings to come. I have appreciated hearing engaged and thoughtful perspectives on things we do well, and areas for us to consider doing more. I have found these one-on-one discussions enjoyable and informative, and have been encouraged to hear first-hand the support we enjoy.
Therefore I look to 2024 primarily with measured confidence, and with hope: confidence in our investment strategy and how we are executing on it, albeit with some caution around the level of macro uncertainty; and hope that – despite the challenges faced today by investment trusts – our clear investment proposition and focus on shareholder returns will continue to broaden our appeal.
As always, we thank you for your continued support.
On behalf of your Board and the entire team at ICG Enterprise Trust, thank you for your support over the past year and we wish you a restful holiday.
Jane Tufnell – Chair, ICG Enterprise Trust