Belfast Telegraph

Neil Woodford firm ‘pleased’ with progress despite investor uproar

Last week, Mr Woodford stopped people taking their money out of the Woodford Equity Income Fund.

(Woodford Investment Management/YouTube/PA)
(Woodford Investment Management/YouTube/PA)

Neil Woodford’s listed business has said it is “pleased” with the progress of its portfolio companies, despite a dive in its share price after the renowned stock-picker suspended one of his funds.

Woodford Patient Capital Trust said it does not believe the operational performance of the portfolio businesses have been “impacted” by recent events.

The fund manager has also blocked investors from viewing all but the largest holdings of his three main funds, marking a U-turn on a previous commitment to full transparency.

Last week, Mr Woodford stopped people taking their money out of the Woodford Equity Income Fund.

The City heavyweight suffered a nightmare week after suspending the fund “to protect investors’ interests” after they withdrew around £560 million from it over the previous four weeks.

Woodford Patient Capital Trust has said it believes it “continues to have the potential to deliver attractive returns”, despite the subsequent slump in share value.

Susan Searle, chairwoman of Woodford Patient Capital Trust, said: “The board is closely monitoring the situation and is engaging with its shareholders and advisers.

“Separately, the board is in regular dialogue with the portfolio manager.

“The board wishes to emphasise the long-term approach of the company and will continue to keep shareholders updated as necessary.”

Over the weekend, the boss of stockbroker Hargeaves Lansdown apologised to investors after the company’s clients found their money trapped in Mr Woodford’s ill-fated funds.

Clint Hill, chief executive of Hargreaves Lansdown, said he shared his clients’ frustrations and disappointment.

Hargeaves Lansdown has seen its shares steeply decline over the past week amid continued pressure on Mr Wodford’s fund.

The frozen Woodford Equity Income Fund is the company’s largest, with a reported value of £3.7 billion, but this is down heavily on the £6.8 billion recorded a year ago.

On Wednesday, it emerged that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) was demanding answers from Mr Woodford and his brokers over their decision to invest so heavily in unlisted companies based offshore in Guernsey.

There was no suggestion of wrongdoing at Woodford Investment Management, the watchdog said, but officials want to understand the chain of events leading to the suspension.

Nicky Morgan, chair of Parliament’s Treasury Committee, said on Monday that she had written to FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey to ask for more information on the suspension.

“The FCA must set out the details of its supervisory contact with the Woodford Fund, whether it will investigate the events that led to the suspension of the Fund, and more broadly, how long such a suspension should be,” she said.

“Questions have been raised about the FCA’s alertness to the problem. The Committee will use Mr Bailey’s response, and the FCA’s appearance before us later this month, to try to get to the bottom of this.”

Press Association

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