You’ve got to hand it to Newham Council, for the way it has played both ends of the Referendum Game.
In the run up to the referendum on 23 June 2016, the council was as coy as Theresa May as to its stance on Britain’s EU membership.
Elected Mayor Sir Robin Wales went as far as saying “being part of a bigger organisation is more sensible”, but that’s the nearest he came to stating a position.
Although Remain lost the vote, financially speaking the council came out on the winning side. According to Room 151, a local government news site based in London, Newham Pension Fund pulled off a currency hedge which offset the fall in the value of the British pound to the tune of £20 million.
While leaning discreetly towards Remain, the council had seen the vote going the other way: just before the date of the referendum it moved £150 million sterling into US dollars, thereby forestalling the drop in the value of the pound which followed the Brexit vote.
Stephen Wild, corporate finance manager at Newham, explained that “following discussions with our advisers we converted a substantial pile of sterling into US dollars…for a 13% gain.”
Newham Council had already been named the second-best performing fund in the Local Government Pension Scheme, 2015-16.
What are they betting on now – the date for implementing Article 50, or how long the Trump presidency will last?