“We already established a base on the European continent in 2019 with the opening of our office in Frankfurt and have moved closer to our Austrian customers. We continue to build on this and devote more time and resources to the Austrian market,” says Tanja Schneider. “We have a clearly defined offer to our clients – highly concentrated, actively managed portfolios with the aim of finding the growth champions of tomorrow.”
Active since 1908 and growing without takeovers or mergers
Founded in 1908, Baillie Gifford is an independent global investment firm organized as a partnership, all members of which are active in the firm. This ownership structure is unique for an asset manager of this size and tradition. The company has been growing organically for 112 years, without mergers and acquisitions.
Baillie Gifford’s investment managers look for companies that are in the early stages of growth and have the potential to transform their sectors and advance the broader economy, and then tend to stay invested for the long term. The average holding period across the company is around eight years, although some companies are in the portfolio for significantly longer. The investment managers can also withstand setbacks if they are convinced of the company.
Amazon, Tesla & Co.: Had the right “nose” for tech giants early on
Baillie Gifford first invested in Amazon around 2003 before the share price halved shortly thereafter. Believing that Jeff Bezos had the right vision to transform the company from an online bookseller to a platform company, Baillie Gifford remained invested on behalf of his clients. They have since benefited from the fact that the share price has multiplied exponentially in two decades. Baillie Gifford has also been involved with companies such as Spotify and Tesla for many years.
In order to let his customers participate in the value development of extraordinary companies as early as possible and to build up relationships with founders and company bosses, Baillie Gifford invests with suitable closed vehicles well before the IPO. These investments in private companies currently add up to 5.7 billion US dollars. These include companies such as the Munich air taxi startup Lilium, the Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt and the crypto technology company Blockchain.com.
“Providing capital to revolutionary companies with patience and optimism is what investing is really about. So it’s more about supporting ideas, entrepreneurs and management teams that can fundamentally change our world – not about analyzing stock prices and valuations. The noise of the financial markets only distracts from the essential task. For us, this consists of helping those companies that meet the major challenges of our society and offer the products and solutions that we all use,” says Stuart Dunbar, Partner at Baillie Gifford, explaining the investment philosophy of the asset manager.
Dunbar is one of 51 partners who own the shares in Baillie Gifford and jointly manage the company. Many of the partners are responsible for investment strategies and thus help shape the investment success themselves.
Dunbar: “We are not obligated to any bank or any other external owner, only to ourselves. We believe that with this ownership structure we are making far-sighted decisions that are in the interests of our clients and portfolio companies alike. Our investment managers look at a company’s potential rather than current earnings, ignoring market noise and quarterly reports.”
“Long-term” with a difference: Longest-standing customer has invested in Baillie Gifford for over 100 years
At Baillie Gifford, this philosophy is also reflected in customer relationships. “We work with clients who understand our investment approach and support it through market cycles. Above-average returns also require above-average patience,” says Dunbar. “Our business strategy for Europe reflects how we invest. We want to build long-term partnerships that will last for many years.”
Keyword “long-term partnerships”: According to Stuart Dunbar, more than a hundred customers have been invested with Baillie Gifford for 20 years or more, and one customer for more than 100 years.
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