Aussie billionaire investor warns of ‘devastating economic collapse’

Aussie billionaire investor warns of 'devastating economic collapse'

“The outcomes range from a V- or U-shaped recovery, a prolonged and deep recession and, at the pessimistic end of the scale, to a depression.”

Governments around the world had realised the severity of the situation, Mr Douglass said, but stimulus packages would need to be between 20 to 30 per cent of GDP to stave off permanent economic damage.

The outcomes range from a V- or U-shaped recovery, a prolonged and deep recession and, at the pessimistic end of the scale, to a depression.

Hamish Douglass

“We hope that politicians and central banks will act in time and with sufficient force to prevent a devastating economic collapse. We are assessing their efforts as they announce them.”

Magellan’s own share price took a battering on Wednesday, falling by 11.6 per cent across the day. Earlier this month, the group posted a month-on-month loss of $3.6 billion in funds under management. Industry sources have singled out the financial group of being particularly at risk of the extreme market volatility due to its exposure to global equities.

After rather alarmist commentary, Mr Douglass said Magellan’s global equity portfolio was “well positioned” to weather the storm and the company had taken steps, like increasing the global equity portfolio’s cash component from 6 per cent to 15 per cent, to make the assets more defensive. All cash is held in US dollars.

The portfolio holds “few or no” investments across industries that he identified as most vulnerable: banks, energy companies, airlines, travel-related companies or property trusts.

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He identified American utilities companies, telecom-infrastructure companies and pharmaceutical companies as being “likely to prove resilient” and pointed to the investments in tech stocks, including Alibaba and Tencent, as likely to prove “more resilient”.

Luxury brands with strong balance sheets would survive, he said, as many had around one third of sales from Chinese consumers, a county with an economy that is “one of the best-placed” to recover.

Restaurants were facing a “challenging situation” as tourism grinds to a halt and countries are sent into lock-down but Mr Douglass was confident that these businesses will bounce back after the crisis.

“Needless to say, we are monitoring these investments closely given the unusual nature of this situation,” Mr Douglass said.

Charlotte is a reporter for The Age.

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