FINANCE NEWS: Army investment fund breaks £100m barrier as equities rise

Mathew Little

The Army Common Investment Fund has netted £116m and returned 8 per cent in its first year of operation.

The pooled fund for armed forces charities has attracted investment from 47 charitable funds, representing 18 corps, regiments and service, and ex-service organisations since its launch in September last year.

Investors include the Army Benevolent Fund, Army Central Fund, Army Dependants' Trust, Royal Naval Benevolent Trust, and SSAFA.

Before the launch it was hoped that the founding charities would invest £100m in the fund but stock market losses depleted the initial investment to below £90m. But the recent revival in equity values has helped the fund to break through the £100m barrier.

A registered charity, the Fund has an independent advisory board comprising representatives of participating charities, senior officers and "eminent City figures". It is managed by Merrill Lynch and invests predominantly in equities and commercial property, but also alternative asset classes such as hedge funds.

Sir Brian Williamson, chairman of the advisory board, said: "The Fund was established to provide a simple method of pooling together armed services charity funds and this has been successfully achieved."

Andrew Hunter Johnston, head of charities at Merrill Lynch, said: "This fund opens up the full range of today's investment opportunities to armed forces charities of all sizes, who might not have access to such resources."

But the Fund is yet to attract the majority of army charities. It is estimated that there are 130 army charities altogether investing in the stock market, with assets of close to £200m.

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