Jupiter cuts Grenke stake after short-selling attack sinks stock

Fund group Jupiter (JUP) has slashed its stake in Grenke (GLJ.ETR) after the German asset leasing company was subjected to a painful short-selling attack.

Jupiter, which had been the largest external shareholder in the business, has nearly halved its stake in the company, stock market filings published this week show.

Grenke shares have tumbled 42% since controversial short-seller Viceroy Research published a document accusing the Baden-Baden based company of accounting fraud and predatory practices against small business. Grenke strongly denied the allegations and reserved the right to take legal action against Viceroy.

Jupiter slashed its stake from 5.7% of Grenke’s shares to 3.2% in the days following the publication of Viceroy’s report. The fund group declined to comment.

The bulk of Jupiter’s stake in the business is held in the £4.5bn Jupiter European fund run by Citywire A-rated Mark Nichols and Mark Heslop, which last reported a £163m position in Grenke, representing 3.6% of the fund, at the end of June.

Nichols and Heslop inherited the stake from Alexander Darwall, who they succeeded as managers of the fund in October last year after Darwall’s departure to launch his own fund group.

Darwall, who retained management of the European Opportunities Trust (JEO) after the launch of his Devon Equity Management firm, sold his stake in Grenke on the day of Viceroy’s short-selling attack.

Since taking over Jupiter European, Nichols and Heslop have outperformed the fund’s former manager, returning 6.5% while shares in the European Opportunities trust have lost 20.7%, as a fall in the net asset value has been exacerbated by the shares’ widening discount.

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European Opportunities was earlier this year hit by the collapse in the shares of Wirecard (WDI.ETR), the trust’s largest position, on fraud revelations. Darwall sold his stake in Wirecard after auditors reported they could not confirm the existence of €1.9bn in cash. 

Nichols and Heslop avoided the hit from Wirecard, selling Jupiter European’s stake in the business inherited from Darwall after taking over the fund last year.



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