5 Minutes with: CPR’s Wesley Lebeau

Wesley Lebeau, manager of the CPR Invest Global Disruptive Opportunities fund, insists thematic investing isn't a fad and reveals a talent for tennis

Annalisa Esposito 25 October, 2019 | 9:37AM
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Wesley Lebeau has co-managed the CPR Invest Global Disruptive Opportunities fund with Estelle Menard since 2016. The fund, which has more than £1.5 billion in assets under management, invests in companies that are “game changers” and can challenge existing business models. The fund is up 23.9% year to date and top holdings include credit reporting agency TransUnion and cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks.

What does the fund do?

Takes advantage of the changing world. We adopt a thematic approach, choosing companies  for their ability to disrupt their market. 

What types of companies do you like?

I like innovative and transformative companies that can adjust and anticipate change in their sector – the ones that can offer simpler, smarter, more practical, and often less costly solutions. 

So why invest in this strategy?

Because it is so clear that the world is changing. In healthcare and education, for example,  major shifts are reshaping people's lifestyles, consumer behaviours and redefining how we work and communicate. As with any transformation in historiy, this leads to a change in businesses and that provides investment opportunities. Companies that can solve the problems of today and tomorrow have significant growth potential for the long-term.

What is the biggest challenge you see for the year ahead?

That interest in thematic equities is still not mainstream and we need to do more to educate investors about it. But it's not just a fad, it is growing. 

What's a stock you are excited about currently?

SolarEdge, a solar energy firm, which maximises power generation while lowering the cost of energy produced. It means energy savings of 30% to 40%, which is great news for the businesses and households it provides products for. 

What's your best ever investment? 

Twilio (TWLO), a cloud communications platform based in San Francisco – it helps customers keep up with the pace of change! I invested in 2018 and it returned 325% - there are lots of good investment, but not many with those returns. 

And your worst?

Clovis Oncology (CLVS), a small pharmaceutical company which mainly markets products for treatment in oncology. Unfortunately, commercialisation of the products was slow and difficult and the shares fell 80% - that was also in 2018.

What's the stock you didn’t buy but wish you had?

RingCentral (RNG), ta cloud-based system for businesses. It's been incredibly strong and over three years its shares have risen from $20 to $155. 

What's the best thing about your job? 

I like questioning myself on a daily basis and that nothing is set in stone, so you need to constantly evolve to give your best.

If you weren’t be a fund manager...

I'd probably a tennis player, then I could still follow my mantra: challenge, evolve and give your best.

What book has influenced your day job?

Twelve years ago, I met and worked with Pip Coburn who wrote the Change Function: Why some Technologies take off and others Crash and Burn. It helped me think outside the box in terms of success and failure and, above all, the importance of corporate culture.

What do you do in your spare time?

Most of my spare time today is with my family - I spend a lot of time with my 20-month old daughter.

The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

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Annalisa Esposito  is a data journalist for Morningstar.co.uk

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