Martin Currie lets clients re-enter the Dragon as it re-opens China fund

Martin Currie’s China absolute return fund, one portfolio caught up in the sudden removal of former firm manager Chris Ruffle last year, is reopening to subscriptions after announcing extra capacity is available.

The Edinburgh-based manager made the announcement of taking in more subscriptions yesterday to the Irish Stock Exchange, where the fund is homed.

A spokeswoman for the firm declined to comment on how much more capacity is in the $10m fund.

But the fund’s board said in their announcement in Dublin yesterday: “Capacity to allow new subscriptions will be monitored on a regular basis. If this results in any changes, these will be announced.”

It is a turnaround of fortunes for the unit at Martin Currie, which was badly hit by the removal, with regulatory agreement in the UK and US, of manager Chris Ruffle for a “conflict of interest” involving an unlisted security, Ugent Holdings Ltd, a Chinese maker of printer cartridges.

The directors had suspended dealings on the China absolute return fund in October, and that month the board said it planned to seek approval of shareholders to return cash to them in a controlled manner.

But investors seemed to disagree, as the directors then said in mid-November: “In light of the changes in liquidity characteristics of the portfolio and feedback from investors, the directors have determined to continue the China fund as a going concern.”

It was shut to new investments, but re-opened yesterday.

The fund’s directors also said the fixed fee would change back to 1.5%.

The fund was co-managed by James Chong, investment director for China, alongside Shifeng Ke before Ke left late last year. Chong remains on board as manager.

As his appointment was viewed at the time as on a “care and maintenance basis”, Martin Currie had halved the annual management fee on the portfolio, to 0.75%.

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