BLACKROCK GREATER EUROPE INVESTMENT TRUST PLC

Meet the co-manager

Vive la différence

The multilingual Stefan Gries, co-manager of BlackRock’s Greater Europe Investment Trust, brings a pan-European perspective to the search for companies with a differentiated product-offering that are primed for growth.

Stefan Gries

Capital at risk. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and are not guaranteed. You may not get back the amount originally invested.

As a German national and fluent Spanish speaker who lives in Scotland, Stefan brings a multi-country perspective to BlackRock’s European equity research. He settled in Edinburgh having gained a master’s degree in Economics and Spanish from the University of St Andrews in Fife, and has worked at BlackRock for more than a decade. “In that time, I’ve covered 10 different sectors in Europe, scouring the whole market for the best ideas,” he says. “I started my career focusing on small- and mid-cap stocks, so I also bring that perspective. What we’re looking for are differentiated businesses that have the power to grow earnings irrespective of overriding market conditions.” Stefan says the process is key. “Building in-depth knowledge around an investment case is essential as you will always be tested by the market and other market participants. You have to be convinced about the stock and why you feel it can work in the long term. This way, you can identify when the investment case has changed or when it is simply market rhetoric driving share prices, which helps to reduce unforced errors and avoid over-trading.”

Obviously, he adds, it can be challenging to keep that conviction when the market is moving against you as often happens during periods of heightened risk, such as from political uncertainty. “Events can dominate the market narrative at these times,” he says. “While we believe company fundamentals drive share prices over the long-term, we do accept that sometimes they can be challenged and tested over shorter periods.”

stefan gries

For Stefan, it’s the companies the Trust spots early in their growth story that bring the greatest satisfaction. Typically, these are mid-cap names with a differentiated product-offering that can propel – and then sustain – growth.

He cites a number of mid-cap medical technology names, one of which focuses on the outsourcing of drug manufacturing with a competitive advantage in high-margin complex drugs such as biologics. Another operates in the dental-implant sector, with a best-in-class product portfolio that allows it to take a share in a growing market. “We believe both have strong growth trajectories spanning many years,” says Stefan. “We are able to find these companies as we have a team of 21 who constantly scour the European market for the best investment opportunities.”

Europe is home to a wide range of businesses and going to visit these companies at their offices or production sites provides tremendous insight and learning opportunities. “We have to ensure that every idea in the portfolio is of the highest quality and likely to deliver outperformance over the medium- to long-term,” he says.

Living in Scotland allows Stefan to indulge his hobbies of collecting whiskies and open-water swimming at a nearby beach, although with three small children and the challenges presented by the local weather, he admits he does struggle to find the time. Above all, though, he says he loves testing out investment ideas and taking an in-depth view of some of the most interesting companies in Europe.

The opinions expressed are as of August 2019 and are subject to change at any time due to changes in market or economic conditions. The above descriptions are meant to be illustrative. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass.

Trust-Specific Risks

Exchange rate risk: The return of your investment may increase or decrease as a result of currency fluctuations.

Emerging Europe: Emerging market investments are usually associated with higher investment risk than developed market investments. Therefore, the value of these investments may be unpredictable and subject to greater variation.

Liquidity risk: The Fund’s investments may have low liquidity which often causes the value of these investments to be less predictable. In extreme cases, the Fund may not be able to realise the investment at the latest market price or at a price considered fair.

Gearing risk: Investment strategies, such as borrowing, used by the Trust can result in even larger losses suffered when the value of the underlying investments fall.

Important Information

Issued by BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: 12 Throgmorton Avenue, London, EC2N 2DL. Registered in England and Wales No. 2020394. BlackRock is a trading name of BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited.

BlackRock has not considered the suitability of this investment against your individual needs and risk tolerance. To ensure you understand whether our product is suitable, please read the fund specific risks in the Key Investor Document (KID) which gives more information about the risk profile of the investment. The KID and other documentation are available on the relevant product pages at www.blackrock.co.uk/its. We recommend you seek independent professional advice prior to investing.

The Company is managed by BlackRock Fund Managers Limited (BFM) as the AIFM. BFM has delegated certain investment management and other ancillary services to BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited. The Company’s shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange and dealing may only be through a member of the Exchange. The Company will not invest more than 15% of its gross assets in other listed investment trusts. SEDOL™ is a trademark of the London Stock Exchange plc and is used under licence.

Net Asset Value (NAV) performance is not the same as share price performance, and shareholders may realise returns that are lower or higher than NAV performance.

The BlackRock Greater Europe Investment Trust plc currently conducts its affairs so that its securities can be recommended by IFAs to ordinary retail investors in accordance with the Financial Conduct Authority’s rules in relation to non-mainstream investment products and intends to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The securities are excluded from the Financial Conduct Authority’s restrictions which apply to non-mainstream investment products because they are shares in an investment trust.

Any research in this material has been procured and may have been acted on by BlackRock for its own purpose. The results of such research are being made available only incidentally. The views expressed do not constitute investment or any other advice and are subject to change. They do not necessarily reflect the views of any company in the BlackRock Group or any part thereof and no assurances are made as to their accuracy.

This material is for information purposes only and does not constitute an offer or invitation to anyone to invest in any BlackRock funds and has not been prepared in connection with any such offer.

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