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Baillie Gifford US (USA)

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Wednesday 09 September, 2020

Baillie Gifford US

Annual Financial Report

RNS Number : 5207Y
Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust PLC
09 September 2020
 

Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust plc

 

Legal Entity Identifier: 213800UMIOUWXZPKE539

Regulated Information Classification: Annual Financial and Audit Reports

 

Annual Report and Financial Statements

 

Further to the preliminary statement of audited annual results announced to the Stock Exchange on 3 September 2020, Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust plc ("the Company") announces that the Company's Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 May 2020, including the Notice of Annual General Meeting, has today been posted to shareholders and submitted electronically to the National Storage Mechanism where it will shortly be available for inspection at https://data.fca.org.uk/#/nsm/nationalstoragemechanism  

It is also available on the Company page of the Baillie Gifford website at: www.bgusgrowthtrust.com (as is the preliminary statement of audited annual results announced by the Company on 3 September 2020).

 

Covid-19 coronavirus - Important note regarding arrangements for the Annual General Meeting (AGM)

The Board of Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust plc (Baillie Gifford US Growth) recognises the public health risk associated with the Covid-19 outbreak arising from public gatherings and notes the continuing Government's measures restricting such gatherings, travel and attendances at workplaces.

 

At the same time, the Board is conscious of the legal requirement for Baillie Gifford US Growth to hold its AGM before the end of November 2020. Given the current uncertainty around when public health concerns will have abated, the Board has for the time being decided to aim to follow the Company's corporate timetable and, accordingly, the Company's AGM is being convened to take place at 9.30am on Friday, 9 October 2020 at the offices of Baillie Gifford & Co, Calton Square, 1 Greenside Row, Edinburgh EH1 3AN most likely without access for shareholders. The Board will, however, continue to monitor developments and any changes will be advised to shareholders and details will be updated on the Company's website.

 

In the meantime, the Board encourages all shareholders to submit proxy voting forms as soon as possible and, in any event, by no later than 9.30am on 7 October 2020.

 

We would encourage shareholders to monitor the Company's website at www.bgusgrowthtrust.com. Should shareholders have questions for the Board or the Managers or any queries as to how to vote, they are welcome as always to submit them by email to [email protected] or call 0800 917 2112. Baillie Gifford may record your call.

 

Responsibility Statement of the Directors in respect of the Annual Financial Report

The Directors confirm that, to the best of their knowledge:

¾ the Financial Statements, which have been prepared in accordance with applicable law and United Kingdom Accounting Standards (United Kingdom Generally Accepted Accounting Practice) including FRS 102 'The Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland', give a true and fair view of the assets, liabilities, financial position and net return of the Company; and

¾ the Strategic Report and Directors' Report include a fair review of the development and performance of the business and the position of the Company, together with a description of the principal risks and uncertainties that it faces (as also set out below).

The Directors consider the Annual Report and Financial Statements taken as a whole is fair, balanced and understandable and provides the information necessary for shareholders to assess the Company's performance, business model and strategy .

 

Principal Risks relating to the Company

 

As explained on pages 27 and 28 of the Annual Report and Financial Statements, there is an ongoing process for identifying, evaluating and managing the risks faced by the Company on a regular basis. The Directors have carried out a robust assessment of the principal and emerging risks facing the Company, including those that would threaten its business model, future performance, solvency or liquidity. A description of these risks and how they are being managed or mitigated is set out below:

 

The Board considers the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and Brexit to be factors which exacerbate existing risks, rather than new emerging risks. Their impact is considered within the relevant risks.

 

Financial Risk - the Company's assets consist mainly of listed securities and its principal and emerging financial risks are therefore market related and include market risk (comprising currency risk, interest rate risk and other price risk), liquidity risk and credit risk. An explanation of those risks and how they are managed is contained in note 17 to the Financial Statements on pages 52 to 57 of the Annual Report and Financial Statements. The Board has, in particular, considered the impact of heightened market volatility since the coronavirus outbreak. As oversight of this risk, the Board considers at each meeting various metrics including industrial sector weightings, top and bottom stock contributors to performance and sales and purchases of investments. Individual investments are discussed with the portfolio managers together with their general views on the investment market and sectors. A strategy meeting is held annually. The Board has considered the potential impact on sterling from the remaining Brexit related uncertainties. The value of the Company's investment portfolio would be affected by any impact, positively or negatively, on sterling but would be partially offset by the effect of exchange movements on the Company's US$ denominated borrowings.

 

Unlisted Investments   - the Company's risk could be increased by its investment in unlisted securities. These assets may be more difficult to buy or sell, so changes in their prices may be greater than for listed investments. To mitigate this risk, the Board considers the unlisted securities in the context of the overall investment strategy and provides guidance to the Managers on the maximum exposure to unlisted securities. The investment policy limits the amount which may be invested in unlisted securities to 50% of the total assets of the Company, measured at the time of investment.

 

Investment Strategy Risk - pursuing an investment strategy to fulfil the Company's objective which the market perceives to be unattractive or inappropriate, or the ineffective implementation of an attractive or appropriate strategy, may lead to reduced returns for shareholders and, as a result, a decreased demand for the Company's shares. This may lead to the Company's shares trading at a widening discount to their net asset value. To mitigate this risk, the Board regularly reviews and monitors the Company's objective and investment policy and strategy, the investment portfolio and its performance, the level of discount/premium to net asset value at which the shares trade and movements in the share register, and raises any matters of concern with the Managers.

 

Discount Risk   - the discount/premium at which the Company's shares trade relative to its net asset value can change. The risk of a widening discount is that it may undermine investor confidence in the Company. The Board monitors the level of discount/premium at which the shares trade and the Company has authority to buy back its existing shares, when deemed by the Board to be in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders. The Liquidity Policy is set out on pages 4 and 5 of the Annual Report and Financial Statements.

 

Regulatory Risk   - failure to comply with applicable legal and regulatory requirements such as the tax rules for investment trust companies, the FCA Listing Rules and the Companies Act could lead to suspension of the Company's Stock Exchange listing, financial penalties, a qualified audit report or the Company being subject to tax on capital gains. To mitigate this risk, Baillie Gifford's Business Risk, Internal Audit and Compliance Departments provide regular reports to the Audit Committee on Baillie Gifford's monitoring programmes. Major regulatory change could impose disproportionate compliance burdens on the Company. In such circumstances representation is made to ensure that the special circumstances of investment trusts are recognised. Shareholder documents and announcements, including the Company's published Interim Report and Annual Report and Financial Statements, are subject to stringent review processes and procedures are in place to ensure adherence to the Transparency Directive and the Market Abuse Directive with reference to inside information.

 

Custody and Depositary Risk   - safe custody of the Company's assets may be compromised through control failures by the Depositary, including breaches of cyber security. To monitor potential risk, the Audit Committee receives six monthly reports from the Depositary confirming safe custody of the Company's assets held by the Custodian. Cash and portfolio holdings are independently reconciled to the Custodian's records by the Managers. The Custodian's audited internal controls reports are reviewed by Baillie Gifford's Business Risk Department and a summary of the key points is reported to the Audit Committee and any concerns investigated.

 

Operational Risk   - failure of Baillie Gifford's systems or those of other third party service providers could lead to an inability to provide accurate reporting and monitoring or a misappropriation of assets. To mitigate this risk, Baillie Gifford has a comprehensive business continuity plan which facilitates continued operation of the business in the event of a service disruption (including any disruption resulting from the coronavirus outbreak) or major disaster. Since the introduction of the Covid-19 restrictions, almost all Baillie Gifford staff have been working from home and operations have continued very largely as normal. The Audit Committee reviews Baillie Gifford's Report on Internal Controls and the reports by other key third party providers are reviewed by Baillie Gifford on behalf of the Board and a summary of the key points is reported to the Audit Committee and any concerns investigated. The other key third party service providers have not experienced significant operational difficulties affecting their respective services to the Company.

 

Leverage Risk   - the Company may borrow money for investment purposes (sometimes known as 'gearing' or 'leverage'). If the investments fall in value, any borrowings will magnify the extent of this loss. If borrowing facilities are not renewed, the Company may have to sell investments to repay borrowings. The Company can also make use of derivative contracts. All borrowings require the prior approval of the Board and leverage levels are discussed by the Board and Managers at every meeting. Covenant levels are monitored regularly. The majority of the Company's investments are in quoted securities that are readily realisable. Further information on leverage can be found on page 64 of the Annual Report and Financial Statements and the Glossary of Terms and Alternative Performance Measures on page 65 of the Annual Report and Financial Statements.

 

Political and Associated Economic Risk   - the Board is of the view that political change in areas in which the Company invests or may invest may have practical consequences for the Company. Political developments are closely monitored and considered by the Board. Following the departure of the UK from the European Union on 31 January 2020, the Board continues to assess the potential consequences for the Company's future activities. Whilst there remains considerable uncertainty, the Board believes that the Company's portfolio, which predominantly comprises companies which are incorporated or domiciled in the United States, positions the Company to be suitably insulated from Brexit-related risk.

 

 

Baillie Gifford & Co Limited

Company Secretaries

9 September 2020

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