‘If you really want to save the planet, buy BP and Shell’

What opportunities have you spotted in the past six months? 

We’ve bought a number of new companies. One is Energean, a gas producer. It is developing a huge site off the coast of Israel, which will quadruple its production and possibly its cash flow, too. 

We have also bought shares in BMW. We have a small amount of the trust invested outside Britain. This German stock looks very attractively priced at the moment and the company is well positioned in the electric vehicle market. 

Another new holding is HomeServe. It’s an insurance provider and has an impressive record of growth. 

How has the war in Ukraine affected the fund?

Some of our energy companies have benefited from rising oil prices, such as BP and Shell. The former had a joint venture in Russia, which it has now closed.

A few companies had operations in Russia, such as British American Tobacco, which made 5pc of its sales in the country. But it has had a relatively small impact. 

There’s been an indirect impact on BAE Systems too, as the market now expects governments to spend more on defence. The shares have risen by 38pc so far this year.

You say the fund considers ESG risks. How does that tally with your holdings in oil, tobacco and defence? 

If you’re serious about the energy ­transition, you need big companies to support it. Businesses like BP and Shell have the assets and skills to take carbon out of the economy. 

Ultimately, we think that those companies selling off their problematic assets achieves nothing. The assets would simply fall into private hands, where there is less scrutiny. 

Defence is different: maintaining global security is fundamental to sustainability. We think defending a democratic system should be compatible with ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing. 

Regarding tobacco companies, we think there is a big opportunity for their transition to lower-risk products in ­vaping, for example. 

What have been your best and worst investments?

Drax has been our best. It is an energy company whose share price has doubled since we bought it last summer. 

Our worst in recent years has been Hammerson, which owns large shopping centres. We bought it in March 2018, but it was hit hard by the pandemic and the rise in online shopping. We sold in March 2021 and lost 75pc of our money. 

What would you have been if not a fund manager?

A maths teacher. 

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