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Government 'should create a sovereign wealth fund of assets to attract investors'

The government's Royal Mail sell-off represents a missed opportunity to create a sovereign wealth fund of state assets to attract small investors, a leading investment manager has said in Glasgow.

Justin Urquhart-Stewart, the veteran market pundit and co-founder of Seven Investment Management, said: "We are now down to the family teaspoons. Why don't we learn from the privatisation campaign, it didn't really work, why not put Royal Mail, the banks, the met offices, the student loan company and Urenco into a sovereign wealth fund of British assets, which the British public could buy into?"

The former Barclays Stockbrokers guru, sporting his trademark red braces at a lunch event hosted by Glasgow adviser SAM Wealth, said: "That way, the government would get its money and the sovereign wealth fund could still sell things off at the right time, not according to a political regime."

He said the government was about to "lumber Royal Mail with hundreds of thousands of shareholders - punters who are going to be Sids, buying the shares to sell them again, which didn't achieve anything."

The share issue, he added, would simply be "priced to go".

Mr Urquhart-Stewart said investors could expect choppy waters ahead, once the "financial opium" of monetary stimulus began to be withdrawn, but beyond that the global economy was now actually growing, five years on from the Lehman Brothers collapse.

"The Americans are in denial about their debt," he went on. "They are about to hit the debt ceiling and that is going to be an issue over the next few weeks, that is where the financial storm is coming from, and it will be a fiscal fudge not a fiscal cliff."

Investors, however, could not afford to be out of the market altogether, the fund manager said. "Half of your returns are going to come from dividends, corporates at the moment are doing OK, and the outlook for FTSE income is not too bad."

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