CELEBRATING its centenary, the #330m Dunedin Worldwide Investment Trust, which is managed by Edinburgh Fund Managers, is proposing a one-off special dividend of 2p a share and a four-for-one bonus issue of shares.

But the trust's capital performance lagged behind its benchmark index and its shares were a victim of the widening of discounts for investment trusts.

Formerly the North American Trust, Dunedin Worldwide was managed from Dundee until the Belsize House group of trusts joined with Edinburgh Investment to form Dunedin Fund Managers, which was in turn taken over by Edinburgh Fund Managers earlier this year.

To mark the centenary Dunedin Worldwide's annual meeting is to be held in Dundee on January 30. It will take place at Discovery Point, the visitors' centre alongside Captain Scott's ship RRS Discovery.

Ivor Guild, who was chairman from 1973 to 1994, is writing a short history of the trust which is to be circulated to shareholders.

The 2p special dividend is in addition to a same again final of 7.1p and takes the total for the year to 11.5p compared with 9.5p the previous year.

Earnings per share rose from 11.46p to 12.51p, mainly as a result of a special dividend received from DFM Holdings before it was taken over.

The bonus issue will result in shareholders having five shares for every one currently held, which will sharply reduce the current top-heavy share price. The trust hopes the move will increase the marketability of its shares and create greater investor interest, especially from private shareholders.

Net asset value increased by 8.3% to 950.4p in the year to October 31, while the share price rose by 6.9% to 810p. By comparison the world index increased by 10.9%. Under-performance was blamed on the trust's exposure to Japan where over 25% of its assets were invested.

David Coltman, who took over from Donald Marr as chairman at the last annual meeting, said: ``The performance of the company's share price reflected a general widening of discounts for investment trusts during the year. The discount of the company's share price to net asset value widened from 13.6% to 14.8%.

``World equity markets generally produced good gains during the period, particularly in local currencies. However, the strength of the pound reduced these returns to the sterling-based investor.

``In addition, the performance of the company's net assets was impacted adversely by its exposure to the Japanese market, which performed relatively poorly in the year in question.''

But he was optimistic about the outlook for equities. ``The level of activity within the global economy is improving while inflationary pressures remain subdued,'' he said.