The funds & trusts stung by Thomas Cook's collapse

Fund managers had been rushing to offload their shares in Thomas Cook but much of the damage had been done.

Fund managers have been rushing to offload their shares in Thomas Cook (TCG) as the travel group's finances deteriorated, but the share price crash before today's fall into liquidation meant much of the damage had already been done.

Shares in Thomas Cook traded at a four-year high of 136p as recently as May last year, but closed at 3.45p on Friday before their suspension this morning.

That share price collapse has weighed on the returns of the travel group's biggest fund manager backers, most of whom had managed to offload their positions before Thomas Cook's fall into liquidation.

Fund group Invesco, once Thomas Cook's largest shareholder, dumped its entire position, which had stood at more than 15% of the company's share capital in April this year.

Invesco's sell-off accelerated in July, after the travel group announced its recapitalisation plans. The fund group offloaded at least 150 million shares, around 10% of the company's entire share capital, in the space of two weeks. 

The bulk of Invesco's position was accounted for by funds run by Mark Barnett, including the £6.1 billion Invesco High Income and £2.7 billion Invesco Income fund and the £1.1 billion Edinburgh (EDIN) investment trust.

The scale of the company's share price collapse meant that, even before that July sell-off, Barnett's position in Thomas Cook had fallen to just a small percentage of his portfolios.

Thomas Cook accounted for 0.3% of the Invesco Income fund at the end of March, down from 1% a year earlier. The Invesco High Income holding had fallen from 0.9% of the portfolio at the end of June last year to 0.4% at the turn of the year.

Jupiter fund manager Steve Davies had meanwhile been adding to his position in Thomas Cook as the shares fell earlier this year, before rowing back on the move as the company's finances deteriorated further.

The stock was among the biggest weights on the performance of his Jupiter UK Growth (JUKG) investment trust and fund of the same name last year as the shares tumbled 80%.

As the shares continued to fall this year, the manager substantially ramped up his holding in the £935 million Jupiter UK Growth fund in the first half of this year. 

But Jupiter had been selling down its stake in the run-up to today's collapse, with its position falling below 5% of the share capital last week.

Among the highest-conviction backers of Thomas Cook was Andrew Hunt, manager of the £135 million Aberdeen Standard Investments UK Recovery Equity fund.

Hunt's heavy position in the shares, a top 10 holding at 5% of the fund at the end of February, was among the chief contributors to a terrible run of performance for the manager. 

His fund is down 24% over the last 12 months, losses surpassed only by the suspended Woodford Equity Income fund and Legal & General UK Alpha over that period in the Investment Association's UK All Companies sector. Hunt had exited the position by the end of June, according to Refinitiv data.

Andrew Brough meanwhile sold the stock from his £988 million Schroder UK Mid 250 fund and £195 million Schroder UK Mid Cap (SCP) investment trust in the second quarter of this year. 

His position in the shares had amounted to 0.9% of the fund's portfolio at the turn of the year and 0.3% of the trust at the end of March.

Aviva Investors manager David Cumming, who held positions accounting for 1.8% of his £189 million UK Listed Equity Unconstrained fund and 1.4% of his £207 million UK High Alpha fund earlier this year, had also sold out before Thomas Cook's collapse into liquidation.

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