Souter Investments: “Exceptional returns”

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Stagecoach co-founder has acquired some ‘attractive assets which are well placed to continue to grow strongly in the years to come’

Souter Investments says it continues to produce exceptional returns, generating a net return of 21% per annum over the three years to March 31, 2013.

Its investment strategy has been to retain a core holding in Stagecoach Group where Sir Brian Souter is co-founder and Chairman and returns have been very strong at 11% per annum over six years. It has also built a diversified portfolio, targeting private equity opportunities in both the transport sector, via sister company Highland Global Transport, and non-transport sectors. Souter Investments continued to invest through the cycle and maintain an opportunistic approach to investment opportunities. Sir Brian Souter said: “We held our nerve throughout the recession, took some brave decisions, invested through the cycle and benefitted from having access to capital when many investors were avoiding the risk.

“As the financial situation improves it will be more difficult for us to find deals priced at the low multiples we paid during the depths of the recession.

“To counter this, we are seeking and finding a substantial increase in deal flow and we have a sizeable war chest to invest in the right opportunities.

“Looking forward we are confident Souter Investments will continue to invest in successful companies, however replicating the returns achieved in the last three and six years will be a significant challenge.”

Andy Macfie, Managing Director of Souter Investments, said: “Over the last six years we have generated an exceptional performance, outperforming both UK and US stock markets, and most private equity funds.

“We have acquired some attractive assets which are well placed to continue to grow strongly in the years to come.”

Over the period, Souter Investments made eight substantial private equity investments in the transport sector and nine major investments in other sectors including financial services, telecommunications and recycling. Its unquoted companies based in the UK, Poland, Australia, Turkey, New Zealand and Latin America, have a combined turnover of £1.8bn and employ around 10,000 people worldwide.

In the last year it has successfully exited from esure Group, Sunseeker, Argent Energy and Wireless Infrastructure Group. Recent investments include Irish book publisher CJ Fallon, road traffic accident claims management company Winn Solicitors and fund administration platform Investment Solutions (Subject to regulatory approval). It has also supported the acquisition led and organic growth of portfolio companies Alexander Dennis, Virgin Mobile Latin America and PolskiBus.com.

The Souter Charitable Trust has been a major beneficiary of Souter Investments’ exceptional performance. During the six year period reported, the Trust, which is funded solely by Sir Brian and Lady Souter, has donated more than £45m to good causes. Over the three years to March 31 2013, the Trust has awarded more than 3,000 grants with a value of £24m to projects aimed at relieving human suffering both in the UK and overseas.