Edith Piaf famously sang that she had “no regrets” and star investor Anthony Bolton is saying the same thing as he retires from the China fund that he launched in 2010. The fund has not performed as well as expected and is trading at 10% below its launch price. Bolton told the Financial Times that Chinese investment has proved a disappointment “which was not what I expected”.
Last year Bolton discovered that several of his stock picks had corporate governance issues or were even acting fraudulently. That led him to remark that buying US-listed Chinese stocks was like “looking for gold in a minefield”. Not that it looked that way at the outset. Investors in Bolton’s Fidelity China Special Situations investment trust hoped that he would capitalise on the Chinese growth story. After all, Bolton’s track record in the UK had been stellar – over 28 years he’d delivered an annual compound rate of return of 19.5%. But as they say in the fine print, past performance is no guarantee of future returns. In Bolton’s case this held true as he struggled to get to grips with the notoriously opaque Chinese equity market. “I don’t regret it at all. China is the most fascinating place. This chapter on China is the most interesting thing I’ve ever done,” Bolton suggested.
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