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Sunday, April 05, 2020

Business as usual for the profiteers

As tens of thousands of small businesses struggle to survive, and millions struggle to cope on reduced incomes and an uncertain employment future, at least one business is looking to make huge profits out of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Mirror reports that Jacob Rees-Mogg’s firm stands to make a fortune out of the turmoil caused by the coronavirus crisis. The MP owns at least 15 per cent of a company investing in businesses hit by falling share values, meaning he was entitled to a reported £1 million share of last year’s £19.5million profits.:

Somerset Capital Management says investors have a “once in a generation” chance of “super normal returns”.

Mr Rees-Mogg stood down as a director of SCM to become Leader of the House of Commons. SCM said it was focusing on clients’ long-term security.

It came as the UK death toll rose by a record 708 – including a boy aged five.

As millions face financial misery, SCM managers are buying into businesses where valuations have tumbled – but should bounce back. Potential gains of 500 per cent are touted.

Investments so far include private hospitals in Brazil, pharmacies in South Africa and a firm behind a scanning device which checks if people are wearing masks in China.

They add that Fund boss Mark Asquith said in promotional material that investors could capitalise on smaller companies in particular, with prices down up to 50 per cent.

He wrote: “History has shown us that super normal returns can be made during this type of environment.

Market dislocations of this magnitude happen rarely, perhaps once or twice in a generation, and have historically provided excellent entry points for investors.”

Mr Asquith cited 500 per cent profits made after the 2008 crisis and suggested “we could see similar moves”. SCM, which has a £5.7billion portfolio of client funds, is so keen to attract investors it has waived a 0.75% management fee.

This is also the company which set up shop in Ireland, so that it would continue to enjoy the benefits of EU membership at the same time as its founder was advocating Brexit.  This sort of profiteering is immoral. Those benefitting from it are not fit for public office in my opinion.
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