Finance: Oxford colleges say others can join their new investment fund

Three Oxford colleges have become majority shareholders in a new investment business launched this week.

Balliol, Christ Church and St Catherine's have a 60 per cent stake in Oxford Investment Management. The remaining 40 per cent is owned by the fund's management team.

The fund has been set up to preserve the colleges' endowments against inflation and create an income stream, but it is open to charities with similar needs.

Paul Berriman, a member of the fund's management team and former UK chief executive of Deutsche Asset Management, said the innovative ownership structure was beneficial to potential investors.

"Those with the majority of equity in the fund are also investors in it," he said. "They have an eye not only on their investment performance, but also on their underlying equity stake."

Berriman said the fund was a combination of a hedge fund of funds and a traditional equity fund. But, he added, it would also invest in alternative assets, such as private equity, real estate and commodities. It aims to achieve returns of 5 per cent over rolling five-year periods.

"The fund has been designed with the three colleges in mind," he said.

"But if there are other charities whose investment objectives are aligned with those of the three colleges, they would be more than welcome to come on board."

In the US, the endowments of Ivy League universities Yale and Harvard have enjoyed long periods of successful returns, based on a strategy of exposure to alternative assets such as private equity and hedge funds.

"Many of the qualities we think the fund will have are shared with Yale," said Berriman. "They emphasise diversification rather than putting all your eggs in one basket - we want to emulate much of what is good about these funds."

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